A two hundred year-old telescope and cameras from different periods are just a taste of what you get at the Madeira Optics Museum.
First were the binoculars. Then the cameras, coins and even pocketknives. Decades later and after being to 100 countries, Rui Aguilar Nunes decided to share his collections with the world. And so the Madeira Optics Museum came to be.
Objects from the founder’s 5 collections are housed at 51 Rua das Pretas. The idea was born in late 2014 when he started to run out of space in the warehouse where he stored his collections. Helped by his son, Sérgio, Rui Aguilar got down to business in the building he found to be ‘spectacular, not only for being a street many people pass through but also for its close proximity to a number of other museums’.
There are plenty of binoculars, telescopes, prisms, projectors and film and photography cameras in the museum’s two rooms and 41 shelves filled with optics paraphernalia. The building also has an antiques shop and a bar. Part of the building is to be used as tourist accommodation in the future.
Rui Aguilar spends a great deal of time in the museum and knows the story of each and every piece by heart, including the 17th century Newtonian telescope, one of the oldest of its kind in Madeira.
The museum is also a tribute to collectors and their endeavours to gather objects from all around the World. Sérgio Aguilar says how around 300 cameras were brought to the island in hand luggage. That was the only way he had to ensure they arrived in one piece.
Only part of Rui Aguilar’s collections is displayed. Many of the other pieces will be part of temporary exhibitions. The permanent exhibition can be visited during weekdays from 10 to 12: 30 a.m. and from 1: 30 to 5: 30 p.m. The museum is open on Saturdays between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. and may be visited on Sundays and holidays if booked in advance.
Children up to 10 years old can enter for free. Youths aged 11 to 17 pay 3 euros to enter and anyone 18 or older pays 5 euros.