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.
METAMORPHOSIS OF A PLACE: CUSTOMS MUSEUM
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.
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.