Out of the monument: memories of the 1940 Exhibition

Principal researcher: Maria Cardeira da Silva

Research group: Circulation and Place-Making


Exhibition | Portuguese World | Monument to the Discoveries | Memory

Funding Institution

EGEAC - Padrão dos Descobrimentos



Start date


End date



Although originally made of plaster and intended to be a temporary exhibit, the Portuguese World Exhibition, which opened in 1940, made a significant contribution to the composition of the nation's symbolic cartography and memory. This cartography was reproduced in the many publications that lauded the Estado Novo, in formal records and archives, in the blueprints for the pavilions, in the official photographs, and in the official broadcasts and films released by the regime. It became indelibly inscribed upon the area of Belém, some decades later, with the rebuilding of the Monument to the Discoveries in stone. The exhibition Out of the Monument. Souvenirs from the 1940 Exhibition, resulting from a collaboration between CRIA - Centre for Research in Anthropology, in the scope of the Laboratory Jill Rosemary Dias, and the Monument to the Discoveries (EGEAC), intends to reveal personal cartographies and unscripted recollections out of the Monument. It exhibits a preliminary research that privileged the collection, recording and research on personal and oral memory, and non-musealised testimonies relating to the Portuguese World Exhibition. Over the course of a year, which roughly equates to the time taken to prepare the Portuguese World Exhibition, a team of anthropologists interviewed Portuguese women and men who visited the Exhibition as children or teenagers. The exhibition Out of the Monument is a laboratory project based on their recollections, recorded in video and supplemented by small objects and photographs that evoke sensory impressions and personal emotions, going beyond the institutional records and memories already scrutinised by other research and displayed in exhibitions on the Portuguese World Exhibition. This project explores emotions and senses other than the visual, which is usually privileged by research on the historical archives, leaving any thought of reconstructing events behind, in order to wander around Belém and other neighbourhoods in the city as they were at the height of World War II, ranging between humdrum life and grandiose spectacles, between power and resistance, between poverty, work and entertainment, between amazement and the commonplace, remembered by the 1940 visitors. The exhibition is not meant to be the final result of a research project. On the contrary, it is supposed to jog and elicit other private and personal memories of Belém, which tend to be overshadowed by its monuments. Today's visitors are therefore invited to add their own recollections to a new archive Out of the Monument, which will enter into a dialogue with the historical and institutional archives.


Associated researchers

Laura Almodovar

Circulation and Place-Making

Full members

Marta Prista

Practices and Politics of Culture

Associated researchers

Sílvia Raposo

Circulation and Place-Making