500th year of the Dedication of the Funchal Cathedral: Faith, Art and Heritage. A look at the work of Father Pita Ferreira
October 18, 2017 to March 31, 2018
This exhibition was MASF's response to the challenge of the Diocese of Funchal to celebrate the 500th Anniversary of the Dedication of the See of Funchal.

In the first place, the choice of the theme was tied to the evocation of the important monograph "The Cathedral of Funchal", 1963, the first in-depth study of the Cathedral, constantly referred to by art and heritage researchers, thanks to its documented approach to the movable and immovable heritage which make up this major church.

Then, too, the exhibition was an opportunity to honour one of the priests who was most active in the defence of the religious cultural heritage of the Diocese, organizing exhibitions of sacred art, as a member of the board of the Sacred Art Museum of Funchal, and developing a vast work that can be summed up in four major areas: 1) History of Madeira; 2) Religious Themes; 3) Art and Heritage and 4) Ethnography.

The exhibition was also timed to coincide with the celebration of the National Day of Cultural Assets of the Church on October 18.

The Exhibition occupied three floors and, as its main focus was to value the mobile artistic heritage, in addition to the works of sacred art already part of the collection of the Museum, it included others on loan, mostly from the Funchal Cathedral.

The first room contained the documentary and bibliographic collections, with documents provided by various archives/libraries and private collections, in conjunction three large and important pieces (Manueline Cross, Grandin (Candle bench) and Our Lady of the Inkpot – replaced in November by the image from the Church of São Gonçalo "Our Lady of Peace", sculpted by Francisco Franco). Room 2 focused on the relationship between the gold smithery of the See and the wooden sculptures with silver adornments. In room 3 was given to see the Cathedral’s Altar of Repose of Funchal in the light of the meeting with new pieces and photographic documents consulted. In room 7, the gold monstrance of the Cathedral of Funchal was on display, along with a humeral veil, representative of the rich set of vestments from the Funchal Cathedral that is under the tutelage of the MASF.

Six rooms on the second floor were reorganized for the exhibition, due to pieces from the Flemish art collection having been sent on loan for the exhibition "The Islands of White Gold", at the National Museum of Ancient Art (MNAA), which, in turn, had loaned some paintings by second-generation Luso-Flemish masters to occupy the vacant places left by the MASF collection pieces sent to Lisbon. This floor was used to display the altarpiece of the main chapel of the Funchal Cathedral and the altarpiece paintings generally produced in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. The remaining paintings and sculptures of the Collection of Flemish art of the MASF were distributed throughout the other rooms, forming a dialogue with the loaned MNAA paintings, adopting as a criterion of coherence the narrative theme they form overall, the cycle of Christ's life, from the annunciation to His death and resurrection.

In the exhibition centre located in the Belvedere tower, visitors were invited to contemplate the landscape, and passing through the rooms leading to the access to the Belvedere tower, to identify and interpret the Cathedral from the perspective of its exterior architecture.

Through the presentation of documents and archive images, a view of the Cathedral was proposed that introduces the understanding of the nature of the stone used in its construction – 7 types of volcanic rock, representing about 25 chromatic varieties – which confers on its façade, bell tower and abside, an unmistakable character in the geodiversity of the historic centre of the city.

During the exhibition period, room 14 of the second floor was converted into a conference room where various activities were held as part of the educational services, as well as a cycle of monthly conferences on the work of Fr. Pita Ferreira, which began in November. Four researchers were invited to address each of the areas in which Father Pita Ferreira carried out his work: 1) Canon Vítor Gomes, who addressed religious and pastoral issues; 2) Professor Jorge Freitas Branco for the development of reading the writings in Ethnography. 3) Professor Isabel Santa Clara, who dealt with studies on Art and Heritage and 4) Professor Nelson Veríssimo, who spoke on the History of Madeira.