The Customs Museum Porto


The Customs House | © Luís Ferreira Alves (AMTC Archive)
The Customs House | © Luís Ferreira Alves (AMTC Archive)

The Customs Museum, located in the 19th century, neo-classical New Customs House Building of Oporto, is under the tutelage of the Association for the Transport and Communications Museum (AMTC, a not-for-profit organisation of public utility, set up in 1992). In this context, the Customs Museum is a branch of the Transport and Communications Museum. Its mission is “to diffuse knowledge on the role that transport and communications play in the evolution of modern society and to enhance the memory of the museum building – New Customs House Building of Oporto.”

The renovation project for this historic Building has been underway since 1993, under the supervision of the architect Eduardo Souto de Moura (Pritzker Prize 2011). Taking on board the social function of the museum as an active and strategic partner in the process of creating increasingly informed and active citizens, the Museum focuses on developing multiple strategies of cultural mediation. The Museum’s philosophy is to be accessible and inclusive,conveyed by the physical, cognitive and emotional characteristics it promotes through a flexible and proactive attitude.

The exhibition

METAMORPHOSIS OF A PLACE: CUSTOMS MUSEUM

Customs Museum | © Ivo Canelas (AMTC Archive)
Customs Museum | © Ivo Canelas (AMTC Archive)

The Customs System was a determining factor in the construction of the modern State, constituting as it did the main source of national revenue for many years, and helping to demarcate the zones of circulation. Many hands helped to built the New Customs House in Porto and were then put to work in its daily activities. In their day to day working lives, the customs employees developed particular routine within a complex system of hierarchies and labour division. The symbols of the organizational structure from the past pertain mainly to the domination of the merchandise and merchants, from the verification of the authentic of the merchandise, the treatment of the goods in the warehouse, the payment taxes and the transportation dispatch orders.

The Customs Museum exhibits diverse documentation, equipment and instruments used in the Customs House Treasuries, Warehouses, Dispatches, Laboratories, as well as objects related to and used by the Customs employees.

 

Discover that Miragaia beach disappeared while this building was under construction. Be curious to find out what the “burras” were there for. Know the function of the Customs Laboratory through the microscopes and hydrometers. Imagine the clocks “tic tac” or the typical typewriters sound. Note the sketches made by Souto de Moura for the Customs House renovation project.

The Customs House Building

INTERPRETATIVE VISIT TO THE NEW CUSTOMS HOUSE BUILDING

A visit that allows you to wander through this monumental neoclassical building, identifying the functions of the old customs services through the names of each section, going into what was once the Treasury, or discovering the old cranes of the quayside and railway line.

AMTC - Transport and Communications Museum


COMMUNICATE

COMMUNICATE – 7 Billion Of Others | © Egídio Santos (AMTC Archive)
COMMUNICATE – 7 Billion Of Others | © Egídio Santos (AMTC Archive)

In Communicate exhibition the visitor looks at the Oporto Customs House as a metaphor for communication, in a double sense: firstly, the connections it enabled between the city, the region and the other points in the world; but, secondly, the barriers it raised against this communication (by applying tariffs on the entry and exit of goods and the surveillance methods used to prevent smuggling).

 



Exercise your five senses through different sensations.  Communicate with zeppelin and observe your message colors. Play a game and establish communication with an eagle family. Be brave, dip in São Bento Station and become a part of the Square of the senses. Know messages from 7 billion Others. Enjoy the exhibition and become part of the House of Communication.

REPUBLIC’S ENGINE: THE PRESIDENTIAL CARS

Republic's Engine - Horse-drawn Vehicle | © AMTC Archive
Republic's Engine - Horse-drawn Vehicle | © AMTC Archive

The history of more than 105 years of the Portuguese Republic through the history and technological evolution of the automobiles that have been at the service of the Presidents of the Portuguese Republic throughout this period.


Know important moments of the 5th October 1910, the Republic’s Founding Day. Admire presidential carriages. Discover the Portuguese ceremonial vehicles. Find out the democratization process in the more recent presidential cars. Observe the video documentaries and follow the twenty century Portuguese history.

THE CAR IN SPACE AND TIME

The Car in Space and Time - The unique model - Marlei | © Ivo Canelas (AMTC Archive)
The Car in Space and Time - The unique model - Marlei | © Ivo Canelas (AMTC Archive)

Here you can find out that the first car to enter Portugal was the Panhard&Levassor, imported from Paris in 1895 by the forth Count of Avilez. The Lisbon Customs House did not know how to tax this awkward item. Was it a farm machine or a locomobile?

 

See the Marlei, a unique model built for competition by Mário Moreira Leite and other portuguese cars. Take the opportunity to drop in at “Mr. Teixeira’s Garage”. Remember the car impact in the territory, in the transport of people and goods and prespective his future.