Several months after their prize we wanted to know how they were getting on; we met Ana Luisa Moderno and Cintia Manuela. Located in Batalha town, near Bathalha’s Monastery, a UNESCO monument, the MCCB is seen as an innovative cultural centre, which promotes cultures, knowledge and heritage, in one of the main tourist destinations of Portugal. Kenneth Hudson wanted museums to make a difference to people and for museums to put people first. In this aim, the MCCB won the Kenneth Hudson Prize in 2013 for its work in providing museum experiences for blind and partially-sighted visitors which normalizes their experience and addresses an important aspect of equality.
What was your first impression you heard that you won the EMYA 2013 Kenneth Hudson prize?
I remember we were in Tongeren, Belgium and the Kenneth Hudson was the first prize announced; a few seconds before I thought in my head « it’s for us « and we heard our museum, we jumped off our chair ! The second we received the prize we had several phone calls from Portuguese journalist who wanted to have information on us, we hadn’t prepared it and we had to manage a huge amount of demand, it was such an accomplishment.
How was your prize received in Portugal?
As we were the first Portuguese museum who won the Kenneth Hudson Award, we received a lot of solicitations from Portuguese newspaper, radio, television not only specialist magazines but general media. “We were everywhere”. This was a strong feeling of being so proud for the Portuguese museum and Portuguese people.
Did you increase your number of visitors?
Of course we did! But funny enough it was very effective we welcome a large number of visitors only few days after the prize. Everybody wanted to visit us! We also increased our number of visitors in the long term, something like 5000 people more in 2013; this prize is a recognition from the public.
Did this prize change anything in your work?
Clearly not! By receiving this prize we understand that we were working in a good way and we should continue in this direction, this recognition permitted us to be more confident and continue on this way. Receiving an award from a European Organization of museum professionals is a huge breathes for us. It reassures us in our work and our future projects; we won credibility in front visitors and with collaborators. It makes us confident but even more ambitious in developing new projects, to attract the public as much as possible.
Did anything change with the local community?
Since the prize, we won credibility with the schools located around Bathalha, before it we received school group two months a year around March and April but now we have a big demand from the teachers and we organize two or three workshops per month in our museum.
Do you have any anecdote related to the European Museum Forum?
Yes! We received our EMF judge Shirley Collier who stayed two days in Bathalha and we knew that in the EMF model, we could receive a second anonymous visit. One day, during the competition, we received a man who presented himself as a Japanese tourist , he stayed 3 hours in our museum watching everything object by object, we started to be suspicious and thinking maybe it’s a EMYA Judge! Today we still don’t know if it was an anonymous judge or a simple visitor, but EMF doesn’t want to reply to keep the mystery alive!
Winning the European Museum of the Year Award is a great honor. As director of the Open Air Museum in Arnhem, I once experienced it myself and the exposure was great. That year the number of visitors increased considerably.
The EMF, which organizes the award of this prize annually, is an important organization, which once a year brings together a large part of the European Museum World to get to know new developments in the museumworld and to see the presentations of the nominees.
The congresses are organized throughout Europe, making it possible to visit a number of museums in the organizing country and to get to know the culture of the country. In short, this price and the related prices must remain and the EMF as an organization, mainly consisting of volunteers, must remain and be supported.