The Emergence of Museum Education in Portugal: Madalena Cabral and the National Museum of Ancient Art

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Historically, women's contributions to museology have been long overlooked due to an entrenched patriarchal culture. While the 20th century was characterized by the emergence of women in senior leadership positions, their story is under-represented in the literature, and that lack of narrative distorts the historical record. This essay addresses the work of Madalena Cabral, a woman and artist who was an influential Portuguese art museum educator of the twentieth century. Over four decades (from 1952 to 1992) she developed a unique and visionary approach at the National Museum of Ancient Art (Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga, MNAA) in Lisbon. She was a member of catholic groups interested in the study of religious art, textile design and architecture and was an activist in defense of the professional status of museum educators nationally and internationally. A synthesis of her ideas will be presented alongside a commentary of what can be learnt from her contribution to museum education. This essay focuses on the lasting legacy of Cabral's work based on written records, photographs and oral memories of those who met and worked with her.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)557-569
Number of pages12
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2019

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