What we do
Our three main action areas
Knowledge, conservation, enhancing and dissemination of the architectural, archaeological, movable and intangible heritage, as well as development and implementation of the national museum policy.
Management of monuments and museums under our care, including monuments inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List.
Permanent liaison with public and private entities, in Portugal and abroad, in areas ranging from legal effect measures to supervision, scientific research, education and training and land use planning.
We set down guidelines for the cultural heritage
We set down guidelines and a strategic plan for implementation of national policies in the cultural heritage area. We have a standard-setting, regulatory and supervisory role.
We define rules and procedures and take binding decisions in areas concerning safeguarding, conserving, restoring and enhancing movable and immovable cultural heritage (and the latter’s protection areas), including museum practices and protection of the intangible heritage.
We safeguard the heritage
We have operation mechanisms to ensure the protection of the cultural heritage. We develop a pedagogical action by defining methodologies and procedures for cultural heritage interventions and by monitoring, technically supervising and adopting, whenever necessary, all the procedures established by law for heritage protection.
We participate in environmental impact assessment procedures and in the development of territorial management tools.
We have a say regarding public and private interventions on cultural heritage that has been listed, is awaiting listing or is located in special protection zones. We have a supervisory role having the right to stop any works that are found to be in breach of applicable rules.
We define the requirements of and ensure compliance with standards for accrediting museums within the Portuguese Museums Network.
We authorise archaeological works, monitor their implementation, including probing and excavating in nautical and underwater environments, and also ensure supervision within the Archaeological Works Regulation.
We monitor the movement of works of art and establish cooperation with public and private entities to prevent illicit traffic of cultural property.
We promote the safeguarding of intangible heritage by supporting programmes aimed at protecting expressions of culture transmitted by oral tradition, traditional techniques and know-how and also graphic, sound and audiovisual materials with non-physical support.
We list heritage properties
We apply specific criteria for listing immovable, movable and intangible heritage and a have a say over listing applications when these are submitted by other entities, such as the municipalities.
Cultural interest immovable properties may be listed as having National Interest, Public Interest or Municipal Interest. They may be included in the category of Monument, Group of Building or Site. Any property that has been listed or is awaiting listing benefits from a Protection Zone – ZP, or a Special Protection Zone – ZEP, in order to minimize any negative impacts in the quality of its surroundings or safeguard any subsoil archaeological values.
Cultural interest movable assets may be listed as having National Interest, Public Interest or Municipal Interest or they may be legally protected by being inventoried. The only legal protection applicable to Intangible heritage is to have it inventoried.
We ensure heritage conservation, rehabilitation and enhancement
We intervene in heritage issues by conserving, rehabilitating and enhancing the heritage.
This intervention encompasses the architectural and archaeological heritage and their protection zones, as well as the movable heritage and its permanent fixtures.
Our responsibility involves making a preliminary survey of the needs and state of conservation of heritage assets, making plans and projects for any works to be carried out, including their implementation, technical monitoring and supervision through the use of advanced methodologies.
In the specific case of properties that have been allocated to the DGPC, we also ensure their safety, accessibility, signage, lighting and equipment for exhibitions, interpretation and museum purposes.
We manage museums and monuments
We are responsible for managing 26 museums, monuments and palaces, including National Museums, monuments inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List and National Palaces. Each Museum, Monument and Palace has its own team to organise visits and cultural programmes, manage, restore and conserve its collections, ensure building rehabilitation and enhancement, safety, accessibility, public attraction, education, communication and sponsorship in liaison with the central services.
The Museums, Monuments and Palaces have a hiring spaces policy, focused mainly on those venues having a higher architectural or artistic value or providing better urban or landscape settings for use by public or private entities. Strict rules are applied so as to respect the symbolic value of such venues.
We conduct research
We promote technical and scientific studies through partnerships with Universities, Research Centres and other entities so as to further knowledge about the heritage, take any preventive measures and define criteria and updated methodologies for intervention so as to ensure heritage protection and conservation.
This work involves conducting research on building and experimenting techniques applied to the architectural and archaeological heritage, studying the cultural heritage included in our buildings, pursuing research on museum collections and making a survey followed by a register of the intangible cultural heritage.
Three specialised units – the José de Figueiredo Conservation and Restoration Laboratory, the Archaeoscience Laboratory and the Laboratory of the National Centre for Nautical and Underwater Archaeology – ensure research in specific areas such as conservation and techniques of artistic production, dating techniques and appraisal of works of art, natural and exact science applied to archaeology, conservation and restoration and technical reports about nautical and underwater archaeology holdings.
We draw up heritage inventories
We manage and update Information Systems on the tangible and intangible heritage.
As far as the immovable heritage is concerned, we have the Ulysses system – designed to manage information about the architectural and archaeological heritage under legal protection – and the Endovélico system – for managing information about archaeological sites, reducing paperwork and enabling data to be entered into the Archaeologist’s Portal so as to be validated afterwards.
For the movable heritage, we have the Matriz 3.0/MatrizNet systems, used by our museums for inventorying their collections and other museum holdings, the MatrizPix, for managing photographic collections and also an information system for handling information about movable cultural heritage under legal protection.
Last but not least we have the MatrizPCI for handling intangible cultural heritage under legal protection through the National Inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage. This system ensures the legal protection of an intangible asset through a paperless process relying on remote access to the inventory database.
In order to better meet the requirements of the public within our operation areas, we have been developing our Information Systems so as to be made available as efficiently as possible through our website.
We develop an integrated communication strategy meant to raise awareness to and inform the public about our actions, about the importance of the cultural heritage in our society and also about our action programmes in museums and monuments.
We organize technical and scientific events and promote education and training in close liaison with universities, municipalities and schools.
We develop an editorial programme targeted at different areas and publics including Guidebooks, Catalogues, Monographs, Studies, Technical books, Minutes of meetings in areas such as Art History, Heritage, Museums, Conservation and Restoration, Archaeology, Inventories and also publish periodic magazines such as RP - Revista Património and Revista Portuguesa de Arqueologia.
This website, our weekly Newsletter and our presence in the social media increase our visibility and provide information about our actions on a daily basis. Besides, the websites of our 20 museums and monuments promote their own initiatives in detail in an effort to reinforce their identity and affirmation. We broadcast the radio programme Encontros com o Património weekly.
Our shops in museums and monuments promote the design of cultural heritage merchandise by ensuring its identity and authenticity. These products, along with publications and guide books, can be purchased in our 27 shops.
We manage libraries and archives
We have a number of libraries under our care, namely the Heritage Library, Archaeology Library and the Conservation and Restoration Library. Besides, we have libraries belonging to our museums, palaces and monuments with catalogues available online and access to an integrated library system. Particularly noteworthy, due to their unique historic value, are the libraries of the National Palaces of Ajuda and Mafra.
We also have important documental archives related to our operation areas, including the Photographic Documentation Archive, the Archaeology Archive, public works documentation, as well as conservation and restoration interventions made by the José de Figueiredo Laboratory.
We provide assistance to other entities
We provide consultancy services and technical assistance to projects developed by public and private entities, at national and international level, in matters concerning surveys, conservation, restoration and enhancing of movable and immovable properties and their surrounding areas.
Depending on the urgency or priority given to a given project, we give suggestions as to the most appropriate action to be taken and make sure that the technical principles to be adopted are not only updated and scientifically based but conforming to national rules and regulations, as well as to international recommendations.