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By Sarah Coursey, Editor

Petrobras Inks Deal to Renovate Convento de Santo Antonio, photo by Steferson Farla.
Petrobras inks deal to renovate Convento de Santo Antonio, photo by Steferson Farla.

RIO DE JANEIRO – Rio has always been a bastion of Brazilian culture, and remains a hot spot for Petrobras sponsorship. Gringos interested in the arts will be happy to know that most Carioca museums and institutions of national importance have at one point in their existence received funds from the oil company.

Petrobras programs are quite unique in their approach to corporate social responsibility as its efforts are exclusively concerned with defending and valuing Brazilian culture. Priority is given to those aspects at risk of fading away in an increasingly modernized and therefore globalized Brazil.

As the country’s wealth has increased, it has become more open to international influences; hence the urgency of preserving and promoting its unique roots in the fields of music, cinema and the arts. Cross-cultural dialogue has been actively encouraged throughout the Program’s history, and can be evidenced in the well-publicized Year of France in Brazil. In 1995, Petrobras sponsored a two-city exhibit of Auguste Rodin’s work, on show at Rio’s National Museum of Fine Arts and the São Paulo Pinacoteca.

In addition, a 1997 exhibition on Monet at Rio’s National Museum of Fine Arts (MNBA) not only highlighted the French artist’s work but also presented a salon of Brazilian art on the same Impressionist theme. The show attracted 800,000 visitors.

The following is a short list of Petrobras sponsored favorites in Rio:

Espaço Tom Jobim (Tom Jobim Center) – Rio Botanical Gardens
In 2008, bicentennial celebrations of the Gardens accounted for several revitalization projects. The opening of the Espaço Tom Jobim, a cultural center – the famous songwriter was a passionate Botanical Garden supporter – are part of the Garden’s updated profile.

Museu Historico Nacional (National Museum of History)
The oil painting by Vitor Meireles (1832-1903) titled ‘Riachuelo Naval Battle’, was restored for the museum and given its own room to be permanently displayed. The painting depicts the heroic battle on June 11th, 1865 between the Paraguayan and Brazilian fleets.

Cine Odeon BR
The restoration of this landmark theater, circa 1926, was an important action aimed at preserving cinematographic exhibition spaces. Located at the Cinelândia, downtown Rio, it is one of the most important, beautiful, and charming movie theaters in Brazil.

Museu de Belas Artes
This year the museum celebrates its 72nd birthday. To commemorate, seven works have been bought from the Ferraz family, who have been important collectors of Brazilian art. They are now on permanent display in the museum in the gallery ‘Galeria do Século 19’.

Convento de Santo Antonio
This architectural complex, a protagonist in Brazilian history, is in its third year of renovation. Located on the Santo Antonio Hill or ‘Morro’, the church and a part of the convent are being restored. In addition, the Museo Franciscano is being constructed on the site.

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