The Wool Museum located in Covilhã, in facilities of the University of Beira Interior, was set up by the Rectorial Dispatch no. 12/89, January 20th. It was created with the aim of preserving and recovering the dye-house area of the Royal Textile Factory, a state manufacture, founded by the Marquis of Pombal in 1764 and that was classified as Nation Cultural Heritage (Decree-law no. 28/82 of February 26th). It was institutionalised aiming to safeguard the archaeological remains gathered during the architectonic intervention to convert the Royal Textile Factory into university facilities, as well as to contribute for the cultural incitement of the community where it is embedded and to support pedagogically the Textile Engineering course of UBI.
The Wool Museum resulted of the application of intervention methodologies developed in the patrimony and industrial archaeology perspective, after the celebration of a Cooperation Protocol between the former University Institute of Beira Interior, now the University of Beira Interior and the Industrial Archaeology Association of the Region of Lisbon, in 1986. It was inaugurated in 1992 and it open to the public, with a regular regime in 1996. It presents itself as a museum of science and technology and it has the status of Interdepartmental Installation of UBI.
It assumes itself as polinucleated museum, integrating the following museological nuclei:
Royal Textile Factory nucleus is located in the Pole I of UBI, near the Goldra Stream, with an area of 750m². Created in 1992, with its own revenues, it was instituted aiming to safeguard the dye-house area of the pombaline manufacture;
Sun Tenters nucleus is an open air nucleus with an area of 652,7 m2, preserved in situ at Sineiro, near the Carpinteira Stream. It was created with its own revenues and it was inaugurated in 1998 with the aim of safeguarding a patrimonial interest place, property of UBI, composed of a set of sun tenters and wool drying grounds, belonging to the former company Inácio da Silva Fiadeiro & Sucessores (1910-1939), risking to be lost.
Royal Veiga Factory nucleus is located near the Goldra Stream, which complex was acquired by the UBI in 1997. It was aimed to integrate the headoffice, the administrative and technique areas of the Museum, as well as the permanent exhibition area of the Wool Industrialisation Nucleus, being now in installation stage, a parking place and the Documentation Centre/ Archive. This one was created in 1997, in the communitarian project scope ARQUEOTEX (FEDER 10, Cultural Perspective). It occupied provisional installations until its definitive installation in this building. It is a cultural equipment aimed to safeguard the memory of the wool industry and to support the research, especially in the domains of the wool business and industrial history, at a local, regional and national level
. The Royal Veiga’s Factory complex was the headoffice of the wool company founded in Covilhã by José Mendes Veiga in 1784, near the Royal Textile Factory. A significant part of the primitive fronts still exist, as well as some technical structures preserved in a archaeological area discovered during the remodelling works of the complex and which are preserved in situ. The building which has an area of about 12.000 m2, was inaugurated in April 30th 2005. Its recovery was financed by the communitarian funds coming from the Operational Programme POCentro – AIBT / Serra da Estrela and its musealisation by the Wool Route -TRANSLANA Project
(INTERREG III A) .
Since 2002, the Wool Museum is integrated in the Portuguese Network of Museums as an active cultural equipment, it aims to safeguard, preserve, research and disclose the patrimony that is under its protection and still to contribute for the creation of a textile information network at a European level.
The Wool Museum received several prizes, from which we emphasise the followings:
1995 - It received the Prize Ciência Viva for the film (VHS version) Wool Museum of the University of Beira Interior in the 1st International Festival of Scientific Film;
2000 - The Museum Site was recognised by the UNESCO and integrated in the CD-R Millenium Guide to Cultural Resources on the WEB, that came with the publication World Culture Report 2000, edited by UNESCO;
2002 - The Portuguese Association of Museology, APOM, attributed, by unanimity, to the Wool Museum the Prize The Best Portuguese Museum for the triennial 1999-2001;
2003 - The newspaper “A Gazeta do Interior” attributed the Troféu Gazeta.
All along its path, the Wool Museum has been referred to in several national and international publications, being selected as a study case in several master’s and doctoral theses.