Cultural Heritage Spotlight: Cultural heritage of Montemor-o-Novo in Portugal highlighted on an online platform

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Our Cultural institutions Page highlights our ongoing support of museums and cultural institutions with free accounts and access to tools. In Cultural Heritage Spotlight, we’ll explore museums and cultural institutions who are using 3D technology to bring new life to their collections. Today’s blog post features Morbase, an online platform aiming for the disclosure of the movable and immovable, material and immaterial, cultural heritage of Montemor-o-Novo, in Portugal, overseen by the Municipality of this city.

The primary goal of Morbase is the promotion of the scientific knowledge related to the cultural heritage of Montemor-o-Novo, through the guidelines of public archaeology, presenting the data and scientific interpretations to the general public, thus enabling the interaction with the scientific community. To captivate the audience and make them aware of what is theirs by cultural heritage, translating that which is their historical past is the duty of an archaeologist and of those who manage our cultural heritage.

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The region of Montemor-o-Novo, which covers an area of about 1200 km² in Central Alentejo, is characterized by a large amount and diversity of monuments and archaeological sites ranging from the Lower Paleolithic to the Contemporary Age. On the field we can observe a higher incidence of sites belonging to the Neolithic Age and, separated by thousands of years, the Medieval and Modern eras. The Escoural Cave, the Anta Grande da Comenda da Igreja and Montemor-o-Novo’s Castle are some of the most emblematic sites of this region. Since the late 19th century, with the discoveries by Leite de Vasconcelos (founder of the current National Museum of Archaeology in Portugal) and during the entirety of the 20th century, researchers have sought this area of Portugal to deepen the archaeological knowledge as a scientific discipline. Something that, therefore, made Montemor-o-Novo one of the most studied regions of Alentejo.
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The natural heritage of Montemor-o-Novo’s region is also unique, including an important area of montado – a self-sustaining ecosystem, which began to develop from the moment mankind began to intervene in the natural environment that surrounded it. The montado marks the landscape and prints in it an identity based on natural and cultural values in continuous evolution. The Alentejo hills, the production of cork, the olive groves, the pastures, the livestock, the crop production, the use of wild resources, and the wood are just some of the features of this specificity that identifies the region.

Nevertheless, in addition to the historical heritage and the natural heritage, the people of the region also carry a rich heritage that falls within the scope of intangible heritage. The ancient techniques and popular knowledge, the songs, the traditional tales, the religious beliefs or the cuisine are just some of the treasures of our culture that the current generations still preserve with them and which the municipality of Montemor-o-Novo has sought to register and study over the years, while encouraging the work of some organizations that protect and promote the cultural heritage of this region.

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From the sum of these three elements – the cultural heritage, the natural heritage and the people – emerged the idea for the theme of the exhibition ‘Património – Partilhar o Passado, Construir o Futuro’ (which can be roughly translated to ‘Heritage – Sharing the Past, Building the Future’) as a vehicle for promoting the region at the Feira da Luz / Expomor 2016 – the major event in Montemor-o-Novo’s municipality, attracting thousands of people to it every year. This was an exhibition intended to present the cultural heritage of Montemor-o-Novo’s Municipality through the landscape and its transforming agent: the people, assuming that the heritage is not only the past but also the present and that the landscape itself, built over thousands of years, should also be considered cultural heritage.

It was at the draft stage of this exhibition that the use of Sketchfab was essential to enable the local government bodies to analyse the exhibition long before it was materialized and entered implementation stage. Through a simple Sketchfab private link in an e-mail we were able to share in 3D the design of the panels and display structures, in a first person view, also enabling us to predict changes in a timely manner. In the comfort of their own computer, the president and city councilors of Montemor-o-Novo’s Municipality could see, months before the opening, what would be fulfilled at the Feira da Luz, in September. Excluding one or another multimedia element that could not be included in the 3D model, this is a nearly complete representation of what was the exhibition ‘Património – Partilhar o Passado, Construir o Futuro’.

After the exhibition’s closure and dismantle, we now explore another possibility on Sketchfab with the publication of the model, allowing those who could not visit it to become virtual visitors. Taking advantage of the Sketchfab annotation system, visitors can follow the numbers and get a guided tour of the virtual exhibition.

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It was also in this exhibition that the project ‘Montemor-o-Novo 1534’, which aims to virtually reconstruct the entire area of Montemor-o-Novo’s Castle, met its latest result publication with the first overview of the intramural village in the sixteenth century. This was after the publication of the documentary ‘Santa Maria do Bispo 3D’ and the video ‘Paço dos Alcaides 3D’ which aimed to reconstruct specific areas of the old walled area of the medieval town of Montemor-o-Novo in the 16th century. For now you can enjoy the artwork presented for the first time in the exhibition.

Thanks again for sharing, Carlos! And congrats on this great VR exhibit !

For more information on Morbase, please visit their website.

If you are part of a cultural institution, get in touch with us at museums@sketchfab.com to set up your free business account.

About the author

Raphaël Marchou

Cultural Heritage Enthusiast !


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