INTRODUCING “SOS AZULEJO PROJECT” – PORTUGAL
1. WHY is this project being implemented?
Portuguese historic and artistic tiles (azulejos) stand out in the world cultural heritage for their invaluable richness in quality, quantity, style, materials and techniques. Because this kind of cultural heritage is increasingly valued by art experts, historians and antique dealers (but not by owners and average people), it is getting more and more tempting for art and antiques burglary and trafficking – and the number of thefts and demolition (or removal) of tiled facades was appalling. The Portuguese historic and artistic tile heritage is therefore at risk and must be protected.
2. WHO is implementing this project?
The Portuguese Judiciary Police Museum possesses a collection of stolen historic tiles which have been recovered by the police but not returned to their owners because their origin remains unknown up to this day. Because Polícia Judiciária (PJ) has the exclusive competence for crimes related to works of art and cultural goods and the number of thefts of historic tiles rose significantly since the nineties, the PJ Museum decided to implement a crime prevention project against theft, traffic and vandalism of Portuguese historic and artistic tiles and launch a campaign for the protection and conservation of this cultural heritage. Name of the Project: “SOS AZULEJO”.
In order to implement this project, the PJ sought the Partnership of several prestigious Portuguese organizations which embraced all thematic vectors of this problem, namely other police forces working on the field, institutions from the Ministries of Culture and Education (2 Universities) and a Municipalities Association. This Partnership made a global approach to this problem possible.
– Universidade de Lisboa (UL) – Instituto de História de Arte (IHA) – Rede de Investigação em Azulejo (RIA)
3. WHEN did SOS AZULEJO start? In 2007
4. HOW is this project being implemented?
– Through the following main regular and systematic actions:
WEBSITE – www.sosazulejo.com and fb – Containing useful, valuable and not elsewhere available information concerning a global approach to the protection of Portuguese Historic and Artistic Tiles for public access. The available on line information includes:
- Identifiable photographs of stolen tile panels. Easy access to these images aims at:
- Making the circulation of stolen historic tiles in the market more difficult;
- Making the identification and recovery of stolen historic tiles easier (a+b=crime deterrence).
- Practical advice on:
- Theft and vandalism – crime prevention;
- Conservation care – preventive conservation;
- Encouraging and giving information on good practices; news about all sorts of (educational) activities concerning the protection of historic and artistic tiles;
– Raising institutional awareness (especially Municipalities, Parliament, Police forces, schools) and public awareness for the importance of protecting the Portuguese Tile Heritage and the future of Portuguese tiles in architecture and art;
– Annual Prizes concerning good practices in various thematic areas concerning artistic Pt Tiles;
-Annual Seminars in different Portuguese cities;
-Annual ‘SOS AZULEJO SCHOOL ACTIONS’ involving thousands of pupils and teachers from Portuguese schools all over the country.
5. MAIN RESULTS:
– Artistic Pt tiles’ registered thefts reduced 80% since ‘SOS Azulejo’ started in 2007.
– New municipal regulations (2013) and new national legislation (2017) protecting the Portuguese tile heritage and preventing remotion of tiles and demolition of tile covered facades were implemented.
– Creation of the ‘National Tile Day’ (‘Dia Nacional do Azulejo’)
– ‘SOS Azulejo’ was awarded the Grand Prix ‘EU PRIZE FOR CULTURAL HERITAGE /EUROPA NOSTRA’ 2013 – category 4 – Training, education and Raising of awareness.
Articles in English on ‘Project SOS Azulejo’:
Kisic, Visnja, and Tomka, Goran (2018), “United against illicit trafficking: SOS Azulejo”, IN: Awareness Raising & Advocacy – Learning kit for Heritage Civil Society Organisations, The Hague: Europa Nostra, pp. 44-46.
Sá, Leonor (2014), “Turning a Social Problem into a Cultural Opportunity: ‘SOS Azulejo Project’, an Interdisciplinary Approach towards the Protection of Portugal’s Historic and Artistic Tiles’ Heritage”, Sola, Tomislav (ed.), The Best in Heritage, Dubrovnik, Croatia, 25 – 27 September 2014, in partnership with EUROPA NOSTRA under special patronage of ICOM, Zagreb: The Best in Heritage.
See all the articles in this publication in: http://www.thebestinheritage.com/conference/about/
Sá, Leonor (2012), “PROJECT ‘SOS AZULEJO’: A horizontal and Interdisciplinary Approach Towards the Protection of Portugal’s Cultural Heritage”, International Congress AZULEJAR 2012, Aveiro 10-12 October, Universidade de Aveiro, ISBN 978-989-98041-0-4
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