By Patrick Eccles-Williams, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The much anticipated inauguration of the new Museu da Imagem e do Som (MIS, or the Museum of Image and Sound) in Copacabana continues to be delayed. The initial opening date was set for the end of 2012, and it now is clear that the construction of the new building is not close to being ready for the World Cup either.
The museum, which currently has its collections split between two locations – one in Praça XV (Centro) and the other in Lapa – is seen as an important part of Rio’s cultural heritage. Although from the beginning the proposed move to the beachfront on Copacabana Beach was considered controversial by some, as an impractical decision.
Supporters feel Copacabana is an iconic part of the city and therefore a natural choice for a museum that celebrates Carioca culture. Furthermore, it is immensely popular among tourists and Hugo Sukman, curator of the museum, believes that the new location will make it an unmissable option for visitors to the city: “Tourists that come to Rio and want to know the city, or the country, will [want] to visit the MIS.”
The plans for the new MIS are ambitious and building costs are said to be in the region of R$90 million. Designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro, of New York City, the new building is “a reproduction of the famous Copacabana sidewalk folded into a vertical boulevard and will become a new icon in Rio’s cultural scene.”
The ultra modern design will provide visitors with a wide array of attractions that are all based around the theme of Brazilian and especially Carioca culture. For example one floor will be entirely dedicated to Brazilian music and will be split into two sections. The first will pay homage to samba, choro, and national radio, whilst the other section to more ‘internationalized’ sounds, such as Bossa Nova.
The museum will also have an exhibition dedicated to Carmen Miranda, one of Brazil’s most successful exports of the 20th Century. There is currently a gallery in Flamengo that celebrates her life, but this collection will be moved and become a permanent installation in the new MIS.
There are also plans for an exposition celebrating the ‘Carioca spirit’, which will consist of three separate rooms dedicated to humor, rebellion, and celebrating. Each of these rooms will explore and celebrate these particular topics, and their importance in Brazilian culture, through a variety of different audio and visual techniques.
The MIS museum originally opened in 1965 and has always been considered an important research center in the city. It is hoped, however, that the new location and impressive array of new plans for the museum will increase its appeal to a wider demographic of visitors.
“It will be kind of like a contemporary museum that speaks about Carioca culture; a space that up until now has never existed in Rio,” states Larissa Graça, project manager at the Roberto Marinho Foundation, a development partner for the MIS.
The plan to relocate the museum was first thought up over six years ago, after Brazil was named as the World Cup host country for the 2014 competition, and this most recent setback has caused a great deal of frustration. Jorge Maxwell, an American residing in nearby Ipanema, said of the delay, “to be postponing an inauguration like this is just not acceptable.”
The project was also surrounded by controversy since day one as the museum is being built on the site of a former well known Rio institution: the nightclub, Help. The club, renowned for being a prostitute pick-up spot, was popular among many locals and tourists, and set a certain tone for the area in the neighborhood.