Storytelling Meters 

[collections]
exhibitions
Curator:
Joaquim Moreno

Storytelling Meters 

EDP Foundation Energy Heritage Collection 

This exhibition inaugurates the new program developed by the museum around the collections of the EDP Foundation. Based on yearly presentations exclusively curated and designed by invited experts and practitioners from different disciplinary fields and research backgrounds, these exhibitions aim to put forward a new approach on the ways in which knowledge repositories can be activated as living entities that harbour, intersect and enrich narratives of time and history.  

Conceived by the architecture historian and curator Joaquim Moreno, Storytelling Meters is the first exhibition that uses various archival artefacts – visual items, objects and appliances – from the EDP Foundation Energy Heritage Collection. 

Derived the Latin root computator, the Portuguese word contador means both an instrument of measure and tally and one who tells a narrative, who transforms a sum of events into a story. The curatorial strategy to display the history of electricity proposed here implies a role reversal of sorts, utilizing the meters as narrators, as storytelling instruments. 
The invention of the electricity meter turned energy into a commodity, and its subsequent iterations tell different facets of this story: from tariff charges, the production of household appliances that run on electricity, street lighting, electric mobility, to network management and fraud prevention, from mechanical to electronic metering.

The exhibition thus recounts chapters taken from the history of electric power from the late 19th century to the present day by using ten types of meters as core pieces of ten thematic episodes which are presented in a special set up designed by Pedrita Studio all throughout the existing tour route within Central Tejo power station (built in 1908). 

From the electrochemical metering system invented by Edison in 1882 to the recent bi-directional meters and the Wallbox (device for loading electric vehicles), these meters are presented within clustering of objects, instruments, equipment and documents that help telling its biographical story. For example, the “C meter”, considered to be the “modern life meter”, appears surrounded by household appliances of that time, as well as by a set of posters advertising domestic electrical appliances from the 1930s to the 1970s. Adopted in 1969, this meter transformed light into the energy of domestic modernisation. 

In the curator's words: “The evolution of meters and ways of measuring – from the original optic measurement, through the mechanic measurement which required instruments with watch-making precision, up to the more recent computing of current electronic meters – is always a radical transformation of both what you measure and how you tell it, and an opportunity to let things manifest their history.”

Curated by Joaquim Moreno
Exhibition design by Pedrita Studio
Graphic design by Lisa H. Moura, maat communication designer