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The First Outdoor Museum In Latin America

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 Maintained by the Barriga Verde Educational Foundation (Febave), the Princess Isabel Open Air Museum is an institution of technological, historical and documentary character that preserves, researches and disseminates the material culture of diverse ethnic groups, highlighting a collection coming from the immigration, keeping it working. 

The expression “outdoors” corresponds to the presentation of the collection in a natural and ecological environment, highlighting the way of life of a given community, in a certain period, residence, church, mills, sheds, handicraft industries, in short, we try to preserve an environment of contemplation and study.

In the Open Air Museum Princess Isabel is part of the technological know-how of the people who colonized the region, knowing that for the greatness of its simplicity reveals the entrepreneurial character of the people who built the region. Looking at the collection that compose this museum, we can understand a little more about the early times of industrialization, which was developed by various ethnic groups that colonized our lands.


Located in the Padre João Leonir Dal’Alba Street , in the city of Orleans, State of  Santa Catarina, Brazil, municipality, there is the technology park for immigrants from Latin America, the Open Air Museum Princesa Isabel. Its creation was first stimulated by the observations that Fr. João Leonir Dall’Alba made in the region. Father João sought data on European colonization, trying to highlight the history of the main nuclei, through publications of his studies. With these works, it was possible to awaken in the population the taste for knowledge and preservation of its history.

The work techniques that the colonizers managed to develop in the isolation to which they were submitted was something extraordinary. To make them known, was, and is a revelation, a cultural treasure, which is the record of a victory of the human spirit against adversity. It was necessary to ensure that future generations knew the outcome of this effort. However, the Open Air Museum Princess Isabel was a guarantee that this “treasure” would be preserved and with it, an expressive part of our history and culture.

In 1974, the region was surprised by a great flood in the headwaters of the Tubarão River Valley. All that was on the banks of the rivers and streams was carried by the force of the waters. Very little left. With the weakening of the artisanal industries that were moved by the force of water, human and animal, it strengthened the use of new technologies.

With the arrival of electric power, new ventures began to emerge. Faced with this, Father John’s concerns increased. It needed to find a way to save and preserve this cultural wealth that the colonizers implanted in the region. He recorded some ideas on paper and began presenting them to government bodies. In the Federal Capital, he contacted the National Cultural Reference Center, later the National Pro-Memory Foundation, now IPHAN – Institute of National Historical and Artistic Heritage. The enthusiasm aroused by these entities led to the project of creating a museum that would bring everything together in one place. Thus, part of the memory of a whole technology developed by the settlers would be preserved.

In this way, the Open Air Museum was born, the first of its kind in Latin America, inaugurated on August 30, 1980.

The Museum is installed in an area of ??twenty thousand square meters of land. The buildings with traditional characteristics include a kind of industrial installation or services, covering: chapel, cassava meal plantation, stable, domestic service shed, kitchen of the ground floor, settler’s house, canteen, means of transportation , sugar cane mill, alembic, pottery, woodpecker sawmill, artisan workshops, carpentry, atafone, ironworks, monjolos, including the beautiful water wheels.

In addition to these units, we also found the Casa de Pedra Museum, which houses a collection that was safeguarded in a period prior to the Open Air Museum, in the dependencies of the Museum. This collection was called the Conde D’Eu Immigration Museum, historic unit of the Museum.

In 2011 its nomenclature was changed, being called Museum Open Air Princess Isabel, name suggested by Father João at the beginning of its construction.

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