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Phase 2

This project is the Phase 2 A of the Aristides de Sousa Mendes Virtual Museum (MVASM), an internet site, the first phase of which has been online since 19 July 2007.

Phase 2 A involves the translation of the contents into English, the introduction of new IT tools and the updating of contents.

The translation of the MVASM site into English will open it up to a larger audience, internationalizing knowledge of Aristides de Sousa Mendes and also of Portugal’s role in offering refugees a home and a place of passage during the Second World War.

The promotion of this National Intangible Heritage is of the greatest importance in affirming the name of Portugal and the defense of the humanitarian values that Aristides de Sousa Mendes personified.

As well as MVASM becoming bilingual (Portuguese and English) and since almost seven years have already passed since the MVASM first went on-line, it has become important to update the site and introduce new tools that can work with new versions of browsers and on the many different devices that are now available for displaying digital information.

Similarly, since the MVASM initially went on-line, we have received data and information that has been incorporated.

The sponsor of this Phase 2 A is the Center Region’s Cultural Directorate as part of the physical and financial execution of the QREN project “Operation for the Administrative Modernization of the Center Region’s Cultural Directorate”, approved at the head office of MaisCentro/PO Regional do Centro1. The national share was provided by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation.

Thus, using the MVASM, anyone, at any time and from anywhere in the world can get to know the story of Aristides de Sousa Mendes, of the refugees, and of Portugal’s role as a place of safety and of passage to freedom.

Phase 1

In 1999, after reading about the disciplinary process against Aristides de Sousa Mendes, Margarida Dantas felt the need to pay tribute to the Portuguese consul. To do so she challenged Margarida de Magalhães Ramalho and Luisa Pacheco Marques. And this is how the core of the MVASM’s Phase 1 team was formed.

The Aristides de Sousa Mendes Virtual Museum was, in this first phase, the result of a partnership of a multidisciplinary team coordinated by Luisa Pacheco Marques Architects Ltd. and the General Directorate of Arts (DGARTES, formerly the Arts Institute) within the ministry of culture.

While the idea of honoring Aristides de Sousa Mendes dates back to 1999, the Aristides de Sousa Mendes Virtual Museum project, which received the support of the Knowledge Society operational plan (POS_Conhecimento – Project nº 713/2.2/C/LVT), did not officially launch until May 13, 2005.

The biggest challenge for the design and implementation of the MVASM, centered on the need to find a common creative location across several areas of knowledge, thus becoming a trans-disciplinary project.

During its construction, the MVASM has grown a network of partnerships and of national and international contacts that are essential to the continuation of its work.

Finally, why a virtual museum about Aristides de Sousa Mendes?

Because of what he did in Bordeaux, Sousa Mendes has become part of the history of both Portugal and of the world. This alone is reason enough for the creation of this virtual museum. However, more than simply preserving the memory of Aristides de Sousa Mendes, the Portuguese consul in Bordeaux in 1940, this museum seeks to honor individual human action, regardless of the adverse circumstances, that chooses to follow their conscience and to do what is right, regardless of the consequences.

Aristides de Sousa Mendes was born on July 19, 1885. Since July 19, 2007, the MVASM has been open to all. Its official launch took place in the library of the Portuguese parliament on February 19, 2008.

With the aim of ensuring greater awareness of the site, in July 2009 a portal was created in the weekly Expresso newspaper: an MVASM blog in which posts directly related with the contents of the MVASM site are published.