Cathedral and Diocesan Museum in Santarém
The Cathedral of Santarém and the adjoining Diocesan Museum, located in the centre of Portugal, underwent a significant and comprehensive conservation project from 2012 to 2014. This included the restoration of the architecture of the cathedral, the movable and integrated decoration both inside and on the cathedral’s facade as well as the rehabilitation of the museum which houses a collection of religious art. “The high quality of this complex conservation of both art and architecture is an impressive accomplishment, especially when we consider the expansive volume of work which needed to be done”, the jury said. The scope and range of work that needed to be done meant that the project was multidisciplinary with experts from the fields of chemistry, biology, radiology, photography and history contributing to the project.
The church, originally built in the late 17th and early 18th century has been a central point in Santarém ever since, a point emphasised by the restoration team in making the collection of religious art in both the Cathedral and the Museum presentable and easily accessible to the public. The restoration was done in a number of stages to focus the attention of the project fully on each aspect. The jury noted “the commitment to using traditional construction techniques in every possible scenario which has ensured a faithful restoration of the architecture and the collection of religious art”.
Both the facade and the interior of the Cathedral required stabilisation and cleaning as well as replacement of some features which had eroded in previous centuries. The work on the Cathedral’s sculptural decoration and paintings is particularly remarkable. The poor condition of the pieces called for a variety of treatments to restore them to a satisfactory condition. Conservators skillfully worked to clean the surface of the objects, to repair the considerable cracks that were present in some of the sculptures and to rectify the extensive discolouring and damage to the paintings. “The conservation of the paintings, sculptures, ecclesiastical objects and the architecture of the Cathedral and the Museum was carried out proficiently and with great attention to detail by the conservators. There is a harmony in the successful combination of these different elements and the effect is subtle but impressive.This ambitious work is an excellent role model for the wider network of cathedrals which are found throughout Portugal”, the jury stated.