The Boqueirão Whaling Station Museum’s mission is to preserve its collection, ensure continuous research, enrichment and dissemination, and to immortalize something that is a huge part of the history of the island of Flores and the culture of all Azoreans.
The museum building is part of the former Boqueirão Whaling Station at the north-easternmost point of the town of Santa Cruz das Flores, the main centre in the municipality of the same name. The building was purpose-built as a facility for the transformation of sperm whales caught off the island. It is located just above the port of Boqueirão at about 27 meters above sea level. The building stands out in the urban landscape for its size and the conspicuousness of its chimney. For many locals, it is a visual reminder of the times when whaling was part of the local lifestyle. The building is included in a manufacturing complex that also comprises the cutting-up deck and beaching ramp, both located on the north side of the building, which is composed of four rectangular bodies, perpendicular to each other, with a cylindrical chimney, and covering a total area of about 1,850 m2.
Currently, integrated into the industrial complex, but with a separate entrance and independent management, we find the Environmental Interpretation Centre of Boqueirão.
The whaling company Reis & Flores, with Francisco Marcelino dos Reis and José Jacinto Mendonça Flores as majority shareholders, built the Boqueirão Whaling Station between 1941 and 1944. It remained operational until 1984. Later it was acquired by the council of Santa Cruz das Flores and served the local authority until 1992 as a warehouse, blacksmith’s and a mechanics and paint workshop, with the exception of the east wing of the building. This wing, consisting of two large rooms and adjacent pump room, was then assigned by the local council as the island´s Art and Local Traditions Museum, and later the Art of the Sea Section.
In 1991, the Regional Direction of Cultural Affairs asked the European Commission for financial support to renovate the whaling station, and in 1992 work began on restoring machinery, which would last about a year. In spite of this first attempt at conservation for museum purposes, the plant still remained abandoned for more than 10 years and only later was classified as a building of Public Interest (Resolution 67/99 of 29 April).
In 2006, the matter was taken up again, and the conversion of this industrial complex into a museum began under the responsibility of the company Ilhas de Valor S.A.
In architectural terms, the changes made during the restoration period included the addition of a second floor to the west wing and the placing of a roof on an adjacent area that was originally open to the air.
Today, the building is completely restored, with several renovations that have allowed the installation of new museum content, in addition to the original machinery that lends the space a fascinating and emotional ambience. Maintaining the original roof, the masonry walls and the original concrete structures, has given us a very realistic idea of the facilities when used at the height of the whaling activity.