Recovery and Musealization

The wool pre and proto-industrialisation period in the Region of Covilhã is already subjected to musealisation, through the intervention carried out in the Dye-house Nucleus of the Royal Textile Factory.

The industrialisation period in Covilhã, between the beginning of the 19th century and the middle of the 20th century, is not included. In addition to other sources, this period is clearly documented in the Industrial Inquiries conducted in 1862-3, 1881 and 1890 at a national level and 1937 at a local level. There remain significant material traces, stressing Covilhã specificities in the industrial patrimony and archaeology domains.

The musealisation project of the Royal Veiga Factory , currently being conducted, aims to clarify the steps undertaken with the wool industrialisation in the region of Serra da Estrela, especially in Covilhã. Through it, the breaks and the continuities will be identified as well as the transformations induced not only at the industry level but also in the spatial planning of the city itself. The city urban area developed between the Goldra Stream at south and Carpinteira Stream at north. The data from the Industrial Inquiry conducted by the National Federation of Wool Industrialists in 1936/37, a period correlated with the generalisation of electricity applied to industry, show us 158 companies by then established in the manufacturing nuclei of Covilhã (urban fabric and streams), some of them operating in several spaces. Today only the building remain, some in ruins and others recovered for different purposes, of high architectonic quality and all of intrinsic historical, archaeological and cultural value, which memory should be consolidated in the musealisation project of the Royal Veiga Factory.
The City Hall of Covilhã took some steps towards the implementation of this project. By deliberation of May 22nd, 1990 it promoted and stimulated the creation of a Wool Museum Installing Committee, in which the city institutions and associations more directly related either to the patrimony protection or to the wool industry or research were represented. Within the framework developed by that committee the Creation Project of the National Wool Museum planned and approved, with the head office to be settled in Covilhã, and this project national scope was justified and accepted by the former State Secretary of Culture. In spite of having been given as a location the building of the ancient Power Station, owned by the autarchy, it was not implemented due to several set-backs. However, the goals that stimulated the people of Covilhã to create this industrialisation nucleus found in the University of Beira Interior the institution that would enable its implementation by providing an ancient wool factory it had acquired, the Royal Veiga Factory. In this way, it was possible to develop a museological project based on the recovery of this historical building and its new museological functionality. With this intervention, a need felt both at the regional and national level will be answered – the creation of the Wool Museum, poly-nucleated and with a national scope.
The intervention made, aiming the recovery of the building, was supported within the scope of Acções Integradas de Base Territorial - AIBT da Serra da Estrela (III QCA - P.O. Centro).
The architecture project was planned by the architect Bartolomeu Albuquerque da Costa Cabral, dated from March 2001, and it constitutes an example of advantage and recovery of Covilhã industrial patrimony, as the most important constructive elements of the existing building are preserved and it also inserts materials and architectonical solutions that get in harmony with the previous existences, searching to make executable the outlined museological programme.
This museological project was based on a judicious selection of textile remains deriving either from donations made to the Wool Museum or even acquisitions and a reasonable collection of equipments and objects representative of several operations of wool cloth manufacture has already been gathered. 
Besides the technical component, the geographic contextualisation and the environment of economic, social and cultural nature that involve this industry, mainly from the beginning of the 19th century to the seventies of the 20th century, the Permanent exhibition area tries to comprise the presentation of several section of the industrial production process, keeping some spaces to stage the working and business daily life and to present the wool transformation cycle, involving the pastoral environment until the finished products.
In the Reserve Funds area, the maintenance of a machinery park and the deposit of diverse remains will enable conducting temporary and thematic exhibitions and will also contribute for the safeguarding of the most significant species of the movable industrial patrimony.

When this project was planned, it was held in mind that in every industry and besides the technique, also the man, the community and the surrounding natural environment should be present. In that sense, the museum should contribute with more than a well staged display of objects and machines, providing an understanding of the entire environment surrounding a mono-industry and industrial region. It shall be presented as a territory museum, open, alive and didactic where the wool craft is significantly represented at national level and in the region of Serra da Estrela and Covilhã, making the Royal Veiga Factory as a Serra da Estrela Wool Ecomuseum Interpretation Centre Nucleus having in mind the significance that the integrated Documentation Centre/Archive assumes.

Consult the Credits.

Consult Plan of the Royal Veiga Factory Nucleus.