Ribeira Grande can righteously claim the greatest Azorean chronicler, 16th century Gaspar Frutuoso, who lived and wrote here his famous Saudades da Terra. This is a sound urban center that bears witness to the extended time of History, where everyday life rules, deeply ingrained in the territory and living on the anxieties, fears, memories, tastes and dreams of those who inhabit here. The town’s Municipal Museum aims at unravelling and displaying such dynamics, devoting each of its several places to particular aspects. Thus may our eyes be able to perceive the care invested in the mechanical animated Nativity of Prior Evaristo Gouveia, as well as in the several workshops of local know-how, including a pharmacy and a typography; to gaze, from scene to scene, the Mystical Arcane of Mother Margarida do Apocalipse, epitome of the exquisite art of convent tradition, and remember the many egress nuns, in the aftermath of the 1833 law; to follow the secular saga of the multiple emigrations of Azoreans throughout the world, much according to their own outlook, sometimes already distant and acculturated; to revisit centuries-old Franciscanism, in the place where the figures used every Lent are kept, thus making it, still today, a living place of practices and beliefs.
Ribeira Grande Municipal Museum branches: Municipal Museum, Arcane House, Azorean Emigration Museum, Living Museum of Franciscanism.
Municipal Museum – Main building
Rua de São Vicente Ferreira (Street), n.º 10
(Lat. 37.8199225; Long -25.5199615)
Branch – Azorean Emigration Museum
Rua da Estrela (Street)
(Lat. 37.8219989; Long. -25.5248280)
Branch – Arcane House
Rua Madre Margarida do Apocalipse (Street)
(Lat. 37.824268; Long. -25.519524)
Branch – Living Museum of Franciscanism
Rua de São Francisco (Street)
(Lat. 37.819543; Long. -25.526658)
Ribeira Grande is located on the north coast of São Miguel, where the airport and the port are also settled, distancing 17 km from Ponta Delgada. The four museum units are installed at the historical center and you can visit them all within a small walking distance.
Ribeira Grande Municipal Museum – the main building largely presents collections of ethnographic nature (shoemaking, cobbling, ditchdigging, weaving, barbershop, drugstore, traditional cooking). It holds the oldest mechanical nativity in the Azores. It also hosts an important tiling collection, ranging from the 16th to the 20th centuries. Its main mission is to present Ribeira Grande as a rural village with its main economical activities, offering a true journey into the past.
Throughout the year, the museum holds at its temporary exhibitions rooms several artistic displays.
During spring and summer, you can enjoy the outdoor garden for a moment of relaxed reading.
Guided tours must be booked in advance.
Azorean Emigration Museum – A branch installed at the old Fish Market from the 19th century, it presents the history of our Emigrants, who left in search of better living conditions, primarily towards Brazil, the United States and Canada. Its collection comprises objects that were predominantly offered by Azorean emigrants living in America and Canada, of which the Holy Spirit Flag and Crown, as well as travel suitcases and truncks are noteworthy. The museum also holds an important collection of photographs and videos where emigrants share their stories. It is a true repository of memories and adventures of the Azorean people. Next to the museum, you’ll find the Lena Gal House, where this internationally acclaimed artist from Ribeira Grande presents a collection of contemporary paintings alluding to the Feminine.
Guided tours must be booked in advance. Lena Gal House provides audio-guides in English, French and German.
Living Museum of Franciscanism – Installed at the old convent church of Nossa Senhora da Guadalupe (Our Lady of Guadalupe), this branch presents the life story of Saint Francis and the Franciscan Order and has thus been contributing to the historical identity of the archipelago. It is noteworthy to mention that, even though being a museum structure, it keeps alive the cult to the image of the Christ Tied to the Column, known as the Christ of the Tertiaries and that every year, on the first sunday of Lent, is carried in procession.
The Arcane House – This branch presents the life and works of Mother Margarida Isabel do Apocalipse. Her work – the Mystical Arcane (regional treasure, 9/2000), is a singular piece in the religious and cultural context of the archipelago. This is a square-shaped wood and glass piece (2/2 meters), whose interior is divided into three levels. Here 92 scenes of the Old and New Testaments can be identified, comprising about 3.900 miniature figures, hand-shaped by Mother Margarida. This is a true scholarly work of art.
For a better understanding of the Arcane piece, visitors will visualize a presentation video about Mother Margarida’s life and work. Throughout the year, the museum hosts several artistic displays in its temporary exhibitions room.
The main building and its branches are open from Monday to Friday, from 9:00am to 5:00pm. On Saturdays, the main building and the Azorean Emigration Museum branch are open from 10:00am to 5:00pm.
Ribeira Grande Municipal Museum – the main building comprises two temporary exhibitions rooms as well as a garden.
Azorean Emigration Museum – this branch has a parking lot, provides access to people with reduced mobility, as well as a library and a small auditorium.
Living Museum of Franciscanism – near you’ll find a free parking lot. This branch has a small shop, a small auditorium and a cloister, where you’ll be able to enjoy a good reading. The interior space is versatile, able to be adapted to several events, namely to conferences and concerts.
Arcane House – this branch has an auditorium and a temporary exhibitions room.
Tel: +351 296 470 730