The Arte Sacra Museum of Funchal is located in the former Bishop's Palace, founded by D. Luis Figueiredo de Lemos, in 1594. It was designed by Jerónimo Jorge, master of royal works, who worked here in the defenses of the city of Funchal. From the original building, still survives a west section, over the Praça do Município and Rua do Bispo.
The Mannerist sobriety is clearly visible in the north or in the Chapel of São Luís de Toulosa, which has an inscription on the facade with the name of its founder, D. Luis Figueiredo Lemos and the date 1600. D. António Teles da Silva, Bishop of Funchal, performed new works of improvement between 1675-1682.
After the earthquake of 1748, major rebuilding works were performed, since it had been badly damaged. The new project for the Bishop's Palace was handed over to Domingos Rodrigues Martins. The assembly is then balanced by a central block, with the inscription on the main gate of 1750.
From 1910 until 1950, the Bishop's Palace would function as Lyceum of Funchal, and then again adapted to the Museum.
With the visit of the Palacio da Ajuda Curator, Manuel Cayola Zagallo, the awareness of the importance of Flemish Art scattered by the churches and chapels of the Diocese of Funchal gets more consistent. With the unequivocal support of the Bishop of Funchal, D. António Ribeiro Pereira and public entities, the identified works were sent to Lisbon to restore. After major restoration and conservation work by Fernando Mardel, the paintings were exhibited in London at the National Museum of Ancient Art in 1949. They would later join the Sacred Art Museum of Funchal, opened in 1955. In this series, other works were added, mainly from Goldsmiths, Vestments and sculpture, mostly from Portuguese workshops, which were, in many cases concealed and in poor condition, kept in many churches in the diocese, which became part the collections of the Museum.
The highlights are set in two main groups: the Flemish Art with Paintings, Sculptures and Jewellery, dated between the late fifteenth century and the early years of the sixteenth century and Portuguese Art, between the fifteenth century and the eighteenth century.
In Flemish Art and Painting, there are emphasis in the wooden retables as Descida da Cruz, attributed to Gérard David, São Tiago, attributed to Dieric Bouts, A Adoração dos Reis Magos attributed to the Master of the Adoration from Machico.
From the collection of Portuguese art should be highlighted three key areas: Painting, Sculpture and Jewellery. In Painting, St. Benedict or St. Bonaventure (São Bento ou São Boaventura) in the late fifteenth century, the Ascension of Christ Fernao Gomes, and the Eleven Thousand (Onze Mil Virgens) of Martin Conrado. The Sculpture, in a wide range of works, from the mid-sixteenth to the eighteenth century, with special reference to San Sebastian (São Sebastião) assigned to Diogo-Pires-o-Moço, or the sculptural group of the dressing room of Funchal Cathedral from the mid-seventeenth century, attributed to Manuel Pereira, or Queen Isabel of Portugal in the mid seventeenth century and Nossa Senhora dos Remédios in the mid eighteenth century.
In the Jewellery collection, it should be noted especially the Treasury of the Sé, the Cathedral of Funchal, with the exceptional Processional Cross, silver gilded, offered by D. Manuel I, King of Portugal in the second decade of the sixteenth century. Still an important Mannerist set of silverware Eucharistic Vessel and trays of various churches in the Diocese of Funchal.
The Museum has a collection of vestments of the mid-seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, embroidered in gold and silver, with application of jewels.
DRAC Madeira - Direcção Regional dos Assuntos Culturais (Madeira)