A VISIT TO THE (OLD) ELECTRICITY MUSEUM

In the list of museums to visit in Lisbon, the Electricity Museum never enters the top 5. Maybe even into the top 10. But the truth is that this is an essential space for those who want a different part of the city’s history.

In the last World Press Photo exhibition, which in recent years has taken place in the Central Tejo, in Belém, I decided to go next door and visit the museum.

For decades, this thermoelectric plant was responsible for lighting the capital and surrounding areas, employing hundreds of workers.

When we enter the first room we’re surprised by the immensity of it and all the machinery. We go through the boilers area, with special attention to #15, where we’re allowed to discover its interior.

Down to the lower floor, we arrive at the “ashtrays room” (where the ashes of burned coal were collected), as well as the areas of the capacitors and generators.

Of course, either you’re an electricity aficionado, or it all becomes too … technical and industrial.

But some spaces earn our curiosity (or at least to a layman in the field like me): the history associated with the discovery of electricity and a space full of teaching modules and games. It’s intended for the younger, but even adults don’t resist trying it out.

Don’t leave the museum without passing your eyes by the “Central Tejo Faces,” a permanent exhibition that pays tribute to the workers who went there.

This visit took place before the “birth” of the new MAAT – Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology, which will unite the Central Tejo to a new building that’s being built right next door.

The idea is to present national and international exhibitions with the contribution of various artists, architects and contemporary thinkers, combining this space, which is one of the national examples of industrial architecture of the first half of the XX century.

The programming of this new museum has already started June 30 in some renovated rooms of the Central Tejo, but the opening of the new building only takes place on October 5.

I wanted to leave here the “before” of the Electricity Museum, leaving the promise of a visit (and tell all here, of course) to the “after”: the new MAAT.

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