Museum of Glass adds 20 years to keep alive the art of Marinha Grande

There have been hundreds, but they are practically on the verge of extinction: in the Marinha Grande, there are few who still know the manual art of glass. At the Glass Museum, which is celebrating 20 years, the history of the sector remains alive.

housed in the 18th-century Stephens Palace, the two-story museum includes documents and unique collections in the center of the “glass capital” with the Marinha Grande Professional and Artistic School as a neighbor.

“This is where we were born as a city, as a territory. This is where we have built the whole life of the people of the country,” says the mayor of Marinha Grande ( district of Leiria), Cidália Ferreira (PS).

The mayor points out that in this museum is “reflected the whole history” started with Guilherme Stephens, who in the sixteenth century acquired its first glass industry, hitherto owned by John Beare.

“Around this museum, there is a heritage that was also a legacy of Guilherme Stephens and still preserved today. It is the only national museum that tells the history of glass, which counts this art, crafts, and archeology, in the investigation that was the history of glass in Portugal, “adds Cidália Ferreira.

The glass has no secrets for Alfredo Poeiras, one of the few glassmakers to resist and for 52 years a hard worker in this industry. In the studio Poeiras Glass, “the pieces are almost all unique”.

“We do not use molds, we make them entirely shaped with our hands, we follow drawings or our imagination and we work the glass at 1,100 degrees using different colors,” he says.



Alfredo Poeiras believes that the museum is also his: “At the time of the inauguration I worked hard and I had a team to work on. The museum is also very mine, both as a person and as a glazier.”

Alfredo Poeiras highlights the role of this space – “will transmit to the new generations a little history” of glass, “that is lost.”

The master assumes himself as “an endangered species”.

“I’m very sorry, the companies closed and it’s not an attractive job for today’s young people.

Alfredo Poeiras doubts the ability to attract young people to the industry, even because “nowadays almost all the glass is made with ‘robots'”.

In his view, the new technologies “take the creative part to glass, which has unfortunately never had a living wage.” This limitation led people to withdraw in an “irreversible process.”

The glassmaker explained that “almost all companies have a glassware shortage”, because “it takes many years” to master the art and “companies also never wanted to invest in their training”.

The Glass Museum received more than 370 thousand visits in its 20 years of life. The space was reclassified to serve as a library, theater, school, and museum, among others, constituting a strong cultural pole.

“There are about 25 thousand visitors per year, who will take this story: any piece of glass that is here tells us for previous centuries and its history, reports us to the hands that have always known, throughout all these centuries, work the glass and give it this artistic shape that still has today, “said Cidália Ferreira.

In the windows of the Glass Museum, he emphasizes, “the history of so many glass workers is contemplated that with their hands they have transformed all the objects into works of art,” even when they have a utilitarian side.

Cidália Ferreira exemplifies with the lamp of one of the rooms, which is “a replica of those who are in the White House”.

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