The Museum

Welcome to our Museum!


The Carlos Machado Museum, that was created in 1876 and opened in 1880, is a public service institution determined to preserve and showcase its vast and rich heritage, which is the foundation and expression of an Islander’ s identity in the midst of a large sea. Thusly, this institution, over a century old, guarantees the continuity between the past and the future, presently amplified and renovated.


The Museum’s team is motivated by joint efforts to share its collections becoming a true support for social inclusion, towards a more democratic culture and the solidifying of its identity, as a place for sharing, of knowledge and affection.


We are confident that our publics will receive the seeds of knowledge deposited in this museum that transport in themselves the strength to cause plural dialogs and ask more assertive questions.



João Paulo Constância

The Azorean Museum was created by Dr. Carlos Machado in 1876 and opened to the public on June 10th, 1880, at the then National Lyceum of Ponta Delgada, presenting collections of Zoology, Botany, Geology and Mineralogy, now considered historic. In 1890, it became part of the Ponta Delgada Municipality, and after 1914, it was named Carlos Machado Museum, in honor of its founder.

The Museum was initially a school museum opened to the local community. However, thanks to the collections of Natural History, it awakened the interest of the international scientific community. The Museum's second director, Colonel Francisco Afonso de Chaves, continued the work of his predecessor after 1901.

Over the years, the Museum's heritage has been enriched with the contribution of several local islanders of intellectual and social prestige. Among them, is the Count of Fonte Bela, who in 1893, offered a collection of African objects collected by Rear Admiral Craveiro Lopes. This set was incorporated into the Natural History collection, reflecting the scientific view of the time. In 1912, Dr. Luís Bernardo Leite Athayde proposed the creation of an Art Section: «... taking into account the isolation in which we lived, in an environment almost completely devoid of stimuli for the development of artistic skills, [...] the Museum must still be able to protect the pieces of our artistic heritage, which were then completely unprotected” (1). After that date, painting exhibitions were promoted with regional, national and international artists. The acquisitions and offers of some paintings by the “most notable masters of the time” constituted the Museum's first Art Center.

In the spirit of the Regionalist Movement, Dr. Luís Bernardo Leite Athayde and, later, Eng. Alfredo Bensaúde and Dr. Armando Cortes-Rodrigues, started collecting pieces of Regional Ethnography. The initiative responded to the need to reveal regional life in its typical and traditional aspects because "... its characteristics were being lost under strong and continuous foreign influences" (1). Initially, this section was made up of everyday objects and clothing, progressively increasing with pieces related to maritime and agricultural activities.

In 1930, the acquisition of the Convent of Santo André opened the possibility to bring together in the same place the already numerous collections, previously kept in various buildings in the city. Among other advantages, the location of the new building was underlined, for it was far enough from the sea to guarantee the conservation of its collections. The installation of the Museum in the old Convent was «the most coherent and worthy way of saving the Convent of Santo André», also allowing the development of the collections of Sacred Art and Conventual Ethnography.

In the 1960s, at the initiative of Maria Luísa Ataíde da Costa Gomes, collections of toys began to be gathered with the main purpose of that «all children of our land» could find «in our Museum an environment conducive to the development of their artistic gifts (2).

In 1976, the Carlos Machado Museum became part of the Regional Secretariat for Education and Culture and, in 2005, of the Presidency of the Regional Government of the Azores / Regional Directorate for Culture.

In 2006, the Sacred Art collection was installed at the Sacred Art Center, located in the Jesuit's Church, in Ponta Delgada. In 2010, the Santa Barbara Center opened, and in 2016 the Natural History and Memory of the Convent circuits opened to the public in the Santo André Center.

[Anne Stichelmans]


1 - Luís Bernardo Leite de Ataíde; As Secções de Arte e Etnografia do Museu de Ponta Delgada (Dr. Carlos Machado). Ponta Delgada. Oficina de Artes Gráficas, 1944.

2 - Maria Luísa Ataíde da Costa Gomes, in DIARIO DOS AÇORES of 12 May 1960.