Opened to the public in 1976, the museum has been installed since 1972 in the former summer residence of Dr. Joaquim Manso - writer, journalist and founder of the daily newspaper "Diário de Lisboa" -, donated to the State for this purpose in 1968 by the benefactor Amadeu Gaudêncio.
Located in Sítio, one of the oldest residential districts of Nazaré, it is nerby the majestic Promontory jutting out over the sea, which has one of the finest panoramic views on the Portuguese coast. it is also close to the monumental 14th - 18th century religious complex, the Chapel Of Memory and Santuary of our Lady of Nazaré.
The contents of the museum, of a regional nature, were built up from various archeological and ethnographic acquisitions from all over the region.
Its collections document the historical and cultural identity of the region from prehistory to the present day, which it approaches from three main standpoints: history and legend, the sea and traditional boats, and the typical clothing.
The route the museum starts with remains from prehistoric times (Palaeolithic, Neolithic, Bronze and Iron Age), and from the roman and the paleo-christian periods, the latter illustrated by architectonic features in the 7th century Church of São Gião. From the same provenance there is a late 15th century limestone statue of São Sebastião.
There are also references (sculpture and images) to Pederneira, an old medieval town which received its charter from Dom Manuel I in 1514, and was also an important port and shipyard, especially at the time of the Discoveries.
Deriving from the famous Marian cult that developed engraving with the iconography of the miracle of our Lady of Nazaré who, according to legend, saved Dom Fuas Roupinho from falling into the abyss. The same religious devotion is alluded to in 16th - 18th sculpture, 18th-20th century ex-votos and in painting.
As the visit continues, the Museum explores the theme of which is a collection of miniatures of traditional boats that depict the seafaring nature of life in Nazaré. This lively and aesthetically rich collection, documented also by paintings of Nazaré, its people and way of life, includes photographs (plates by Álvaro Laborinho) that preserve moments of daily life in this fishing town.
In addition, there is an exhibition of the traditional clothing, in its two most characteristic manifestations - Working and Festive - also documented by photographs and painting.
In the Nautical Garden one can see equipment related to the sea, and traditional Nazaré boats.
At summer, some boats are exhibited on the Praia (Beach), mainly the galleon "Mimosa" (1912), the "xavega" boat "Perdido" (1949) and the "candil" boat "Vagos" (1956).