EMYA Awards in Portimão: “Museums are beacons for democracy”

“What better place than museums to celebrate tolerance, respect for humanity, democracy, sustainability and diversity?”

That museums “continue to represent a farol for democracy and identity issues, without the toxic meaning that this concept sometimes wants to connote, since your work is vital for the societies in which you are part of”. These were the votes expressed by Álvaro Bila, mayor of Portimão, at the closing of the annual conference and EMYA 2024 Awards ceremony, which took place from the 1st to the 4th of May, in that city.

In the words of the mayor, “the partnership we established in 2018 with the European Museum Forum (EMF) to host, in Portimão, the secretariat and archive of what is the most prestigious award in European museology, has its highlight here and, therefore, we are very happy to have been the stage for the exhibition and discussion about 50 museums that were chosen as an example of innovation and progress in this cultural sector”.

“The beauty of this does not simply lie in the fact that these values ​​are limited to the application of new technologies and exhibition materials, but rather that they represent, above all, stories and narratives that portray the true spirit of the people, places, collections and situations covered”, added Álvaro Bila, who congratulated the EMF “for the relevance and sense of opportunity in choosing the theme “Museums in Search of Social Impact” for the conference.

“In Portimão, we have a good example of escaping the cliché of the museum as a mere repository of ancient objects, to which a monetary and economic value is given, as, in these times, institutions such as museums are essential for spreading values ​​such as human rights, democracy or inclusion,” he said.



At the opening of the works, on May 2nd, José Gameiro, scientific director of the Portimão Museum, confessed that “14 years ago, when we received the Museum Prize from the Council of Europe, we were far from imagining that this year our city would be the location chosen to host EMYA 2024″.

The partnership to hold this 47th edition of the event “began in 2018, with the precious collaboration of the former president of the EMF, Jette Sandahl, and continued with Joan Roca, the organization's new head”, added Gameiro.

“What better place than museums to celebrate tolerance, respect for humanity, democracy, sustainability and diversity”, said José Gameiro, hoping for a “very pleasant conference, in which everyone feels attracted, inspired and seduced on the positive side of the museums that we will have the opportunity to get to know better these days”.

“We must not forget that the roots of our museum are the result and expression of a concept born and developed in Europe, and I would like to highlight the contribution and extraordinary role played by the European Museum Forum and the Council of Europe, and by EMYA in the promotion of European museums”, said the scientific director, in his opening speech.

Museums, he also highlighted, “have developed new functions and strategies, changing and becoming privileged and permanent observatories of their societies and their historical, social, cultural and natural heritage, as well as laboratories for new ideas, projects and partnerships in network, meeting places with more social openness and greater awareness of their time, thus avoiding the freezing of their proposals and missions, adding more value to their communities and to all participants involved in these social, cultural and scientific interactions”.

“And what better place than museums to celebrate tolerance, respect for humanity, democracy, sustainability and diversity?” asked José Gameiro, in conclusion.



For her part, at the closing ceremony, the head of the Museums and Heritage Division of the Municipality of Portimão, Isabel Soares, stated that the city's museum “hosts a variety of educational and cultural activities to bring together its community and promote a shared feeling of history, industrial heritage and environmental sustainability”.

According to the person responsible, the Portimão Museum “is a particularly welcoming, dynamic and engaging place, which makes visitors feel at home, and it was very impressive to involve all members of the local community, not only in its creation, but also in its continuous development, which makes this a place full of heart and humility and transmits to us the predominant desire to make a difference”.

The annual conference and award ceremony for the EMYA 2024 Awards took place in Portimão, from the 1st to the 4th of May. This is the most prestigious distinction in the field of European museology, which brought together two and a half hundred participants in the city, representing 29 nationalities, 75 museums, of which 50 were nominated, and 25 associations and companies in the sector.

The organization of this event, promoted by EMF – European Museum Forum, was one of the highlights of the celebrations that, during 2024, mark the centenary of Portimão's elevation to the category of city.

This was a unique occasion for the presentation of the participating museums, which, at TEMPO – Teatro Municipal de Portimão, revealed their dimension as dynamic, historical and socially relevant spaces and irreplaceable structures in the cultural and scientific domain.

It was four inspiring days, with an exchange of experiences and knowledge in the area of ​​museology, led by professionals in the sector who brought true cultural dynamism to the event, while presenting the bold proposals of the museums they represented, with emphasis on the Sámi Museum Siida, from Finland, winner of the European Museum of the Year 2024 award.



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