Considered as a territory museum, the Wool Museum mission is to safeguard and preserve actively the movable textile industrial patrimony as well as to promote the research and to disclose the technologies related to the wool manufacturing and industrialisation in a region having Serra da Estrela as matrix and as historic centre the city of Covilhã in its diverse patrimonial, economic, political, social, scientific, technical, artistic and cultural perspectives.
That way, the Wool Museum museologic collection constitution started with the archaeological structures discovery belonging to the Royal Textile Factory Dye-house, when the building was being rehabilitated and converted into a Higher Education establishment and when its was classified as a Nation Cultural Heritage by the Decree no. 28/82 of February 26th. With the University of Beira Interior initiative and coordination, the Portuguese Association of Industrial Archaeology – APAI worked out and developed in association with UBI the recovery, restoration and musealisation project of this area. That way, the first nucleus of the Wool Museum, the Royal Textile Factory was settled and it was inaugurated on April 30th, 1992.
The Wool Museum patrimony comprises the movable goods generally composed of collections of machines, equipments, instruments, textual, cartographic, iconographical documents, as well as textiles products (wool, yarns, textile samples, cloths and clothes) related to the wool manufacturing and industrial periods. Besides the movable collection, the Wool Museum also integrates the immovable goods of patrimonial interest, such as the Dye-house of the eight hundredth century of the Royal Textile Factory, the building complex of the Royal Veiga Factory and the set of Sun Tenters, at Sineiro.
The collected museological goods are settled, according to their nature, function and patrimonial, historic, cultural and chronologic significance, in the following technical and functional spaces:
Permanent Exhibition of the Royal Textile Factory Dye-house - favours goods from different nature (support and function) related to the manufacturing processes of wool cloths dyeing and the transformation of fibres in cloth, comprising the pre and proto-industrial periods, until the end of the 18th century. [Read +]
Permanent Exhibition of the Museological Nucleus of Royal Veiga Factory /Wool Manufacture Interpretation Centre– favours goods related to the mechanical and automatic process from all the operations linked to the collection and transformation process of fibres into cloth, comprising the industrial period between the end of the 18th century and the present. [Read +]
The museological collection kept by the Wool Museum can be characterised regarding its disciplinary, geographic and chronologic scope.
The museological collection, included in the Permanent Exhibition areas of the Royal Textile Factory Dye-house, the Royal Veiga Factory nuclei and in the Reserves, integrates in Archaeology scope of the pre, proto and industrialisation of the wool industry. The Royal Textile Factory comprises architectonic and archaeological structuresdiscovered in the pombaline of the eight hundredths century dye-house area, as well as the exhibition and preservation of the discoveries recovered during three archaeological interventions that the building was subjected to (1986-1992). The Royal Veiga Factory, on its turn, integrates an expressive collection, in a systematic incorporation process of machines, equipments, instruments made of iron and other metals, wood, compounded and textile materials. This collection is already incorporated and it has been subjected to preservation and restoration, in order to be integrated in different areas of the Permanent Exhibition and in the General Reserves.
Great part of the collection also identifies itself with the discipline of History: the first collection is related to the Wool Industry History until the 18th century, and the second one to the wool industrialisation History dated from the 19th to the 20th centuries, from the economic, social, technique and cultural characterisation of Covilhã and the region of Serra da Estrela, that owe their development to the wool mono-industrialisation; and, also with Anthropology, as it is reflection of the economical, social and cultural way of life of a region, that has as a matrix Serra da Estrela and as a industrial pole the city of Covilhã, as well as population that, from the Middle Ages to the present, dedicated to a production and trading activity of yarns and cloths.
Both collections also integrated themselves, in the Science and Technique scope, since, through the machines, equipments and industrial instruments and illustrations existing in the areas of exhibition, it is intended to show the scientific and technical processes that allow to transform wool fibres in different kinds of cloths.
Considering the Wool Museum as a Territory Museum, its main mission is to safeguard and preserve actively the textile industrial patrimony as well as to promote the research and to disclose technologies related to the wool manufacturing and industrialisation in its anthropological, economical, social, cultural, political, institutional and environmental dimensions in a territorial and organisational context of an extensive area which matrix is Serra da Estrela (with focus on the Castelo Banco and Guarda districts) and historical centre is the city of Covilhã.
The Royal Textile Factory dye-house .nucleus explains the processes and transformation techniques, dyeing and finishing of the wool cloths and yarns of a eight hundredth manufacture, framed in a historical perspective of the technologies evolution related to this manufacturing process that finishes at the end of the 18th century, even though it keeps existing in the domestic economy of some villages of the Serra da Estrela region almost until the middle of the 20th century.
OThe musealisation project that is being developed in the Royal Veiga Factory /Wool Manufacture Interpretation Centre )complex, by enclosing the industrialisation process, comprises a delimited patrimony from the beginning of the 19th century until the seventies of the 20th century, in three different stages. The first one is marked by the introduction of the hydraulic energy (beginning of the 19th century), the second by the late introduction of the steam energy, a complementary power source for the industry of Covilhã (middle of the 19th century) and the third by the introduction of the electric energy (after the twenties of the 20th century.
The chronological extent of the museological patrimony of both the museological nuclei is marked out between the 18th and 20th centuries, though this presupposition does not mean that goods overcoming these chronological limits cannot be part of an eventual incorporation, since they allow a better characterisation of the pre-industrial technological evolution (before the 18th century) and post-industrial (after the second half of the 20th century), with the introduction of the automation in the textile industry.