When Pombal Palace was handed over to CDAP by EGEAC, in 2009, under a concession agreement, it was left without its function, totally uninhabited and in need of an emergency intervention that was then performed by Engineer João Appleton. This intervention consisted primarily on the consolidation of the rear facade and a new roof. Remains of cement and scaffolding were at first common scenarios. At that point, the Palace, characterized by its labyrinthic plant, 86 windows and approximately 3,000 m2 of floor area, was empty and without a destination.
As we developed the curatorial program and worked with the increasing demands of artistic installation projects and related events, the Palace was being discovered, cleaned and prepared to receive artists, teams, and welcome the artworks.
Our first step was to distinguish between public area and backstage area with an effective and safe museum circuit including offices, workshops and storage. These two areas continue today to rule over the distribution of space.
After this first distribution, and over time, the understanding of the capabilities and specialization of each room became clearer as well as how the conditions of each area vary according to each season.
There are currently 17 exhibition rooms open to the public and 9 rooms for backstage, production and services. It’s important to have in mind that the palace was reconstructed from what was left of the 1755 earthquake and it has areas with considerable dimensions, ceiling heights of 6m, stuccoed ceilings and monumental staircases.
Therefore, from sound to light, temperature to floor area, all actions must be carefully planned in order for the public to enjoy the artworks as well as the palace in a peaceful and secure way.
Managing all these aspects, involved the creation of a daily process of "panoramic" monitoring. Beyond its artistic programming activity, CDAP also started an indispensable action of conservation and maintenance of the building.
Between employees, volunteers and resident artists CDAP has a permanent staff of about 30 people working daily in the palace. Beside their individual work everyone is responsible for the monitoring and preservation of the entire area of the building and garden.
This common awareness of the need to preserve the Palace makes possible that this building can serve the city and its visitors. Through this public service strategy, the building is returned to the city, endowed with artistic contents and initiatives that approach the community.
Pombal Palace is classified as World Heritage so CDAP does not decide or starts any refurbishment or restoration operation. CDAP only operates at the level of maintenance, monitoring and communicates the situations that might lead to the general deterioration of the property.
In the end, this program of curatorial interest, introduced the building itself in its daily concerns maintaining its legacy through its preservation for future generations. The Palace works as a source of inspiration and theme for artists to create their works, and defines the conditions for its proper use. CDAP curatorial project is deeply related to the space of the Palace and its characteristics and this is what makes it a unique and contemporary programmer of Lisbon, conscious of its historical heritage.