From the convent to the museum: the Displacement and Exhibition of Baroque Gilded Woodcarving Altars in Portugal

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When the religious orders were declared extinct in Portugal in 1834, the Portuguese state took possession of all their assets. Among the patrimony of the regulars, the gilded woodcarvings occupied a prominent place. Many churches
and other religious spaces within the convents and monasteries were lavishly decorated with this art form.
In this paper, I present and analyse three case studies that exemplify the various institutional options for the destination of these art objects. In addition to the actions that dictated their loss or dispersion, there were those that simply let them rot, or sold them at auctions, often to be disassembled and sold in antique shops. I focus my attention on actions aimed at their preservation in a public space such as that of the museum. More than a century has passed since these interventions; the contemporary perspective allows the necessary distance for an evaluation and analysis of this patrimony in terms of the maintenance of its authenticity in the museum context as well as the strategies adopted to make contemplating it a memorable experience for a diverse public audience.
Original languageMultiple languages
Title of host publicationMuseen
Subtitle of host publicationOrte des Authentischen?
EditorsDominik Kimmel, Stefan Brüggerhoff
Place of PublicationMainz
PublisherRömisch-Germanisches Zentralmuseum
Number of pages8
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-948465-97-1
Publication statusPublished - 16 Nov 2020

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