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Património Cultural

Framework Law on Portuguese Museums

Preparation of the Framework Law on Portuguese Museums – Law no. 47/2004 of 19 August was based on knowledge of the Portuguese reality, on the experience drawn by the IPM (Portuguese Institute of Museums) from establishing the RPM (Portuguese Museums Network) and on international guidelines. It had a strong participation as it included representatives from APOM (Portuguese Museums Association), ICOM (International Council of Museums), ANMP (National Association of Portuguese Municipalities), museum directors and university professors.

The Law comprises 11 chapters that may be distributed into five main themes. The first introductory chapter, which is essential, deals with principles, concepts and scope of the law. It is followed by three chapters (general museum framework, museum functions, human and financial resources, premises, organisational structure and public access) forming the main body of the law as it includes the institution’s main features and requirements. The following two chapters have to do with movable fixtures incorporated in the building, being part of and belonging to the museum. The following chapter refers to the establishment of museums based on two main pillars – the founding document and the museum programme. We then find two chapters related to the new museums organizational structure – the RPM – and to the accreditation procedure. They establish the RPM and are very useful for preparing applications for accreditation. Application forms were published by Regulatory Decree no. 3/ 2006 of 25 January.

Finally, the law refers to administrative offenses and final provisions. It provides for the transition of museums currently in the RPM and establishes the application of the law in the autonomous regions. Emphasis is placed on the introduction of concepts that will help clarify the museum reality such as the definition of a museum and of a visitable collection.

This new legislation enables the RPM to draw on the experience gathered since it initiated its project in the year 2000, and to move on to a new museum network clearly establishing the responsibilities of museums and the State.  Other consequences of this Framework Law on Portuguese Museums are to raise awareness of those responsible for museums for the demands of this type of institution such as to ensure museum enhancement, encourage good practices and ultimately provide a better service to the public.

Museum accreditation, pursuant to article 110 of the Framework Law on Portuguese Museums, is the official assessment and recognition of the technical standards of museums with a view to promoting access to culture and enhancing cultural heritage. 

It is important to evaluate Portuguese museums and to respect their differences so as to improve museum standards and ensure that the Portuguese cultural heritage is enjoyed in all its diversity and richness. 

Accreditation and subsequent integration of a museum in the Portuguese Museums Network  is a voluntary process requiring conformity with all the requirements established by the framework law and referred to in the application form  published by  Regulatory Decree no. 3/ 2006 of 25 January.

The main structure of the Directorate General for Cultural Heritage’s Central Services was established by Ordinance no. 223/2012 of 24 July. Accordingly, the responsibilities of the Department  of Museums, Conservation and Accreditation specifically concerning Museum Accreditation and Enhancement are the following: to coordinate and implement the procedures necessary for museum accreditation and integration in the  Portuguese Museums Network (RPM) in conformity with the law.

As the Application Form for museum accreditation is not currently available in electronic format, requests will have to be made by letter addressed to the Direção Geral do Património Cultural (DGPC). 

For download:

Framework Law on Portuguese Museums – Law no. 47/2004 of 19 August - (.pdf 275 kb)