By Fiona Hurrell, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – March 2nd marked the 448th anniversary of the city of Rio, as well as the opening ceremony for the new Museu de Arte do Rio (Art Museum of Rio), or MAR, which was attended by President Dilma Rousseff. Officially opened to the public on Tuesday, March 5th, the MAR is the newest attraction to the Port Zone in Rio’s Centro, and an impressive structure combining old and new architecture.
The investment in the construction of the museum was R$79.5 million, a joint initiative of the city of Rio, responsible for resource allocation, and the Roberto Marinho Foundation, responsible for the project design.
The museum is situated near the Praça Mauá and is part of the revitalization project directed at the port area. The MAR also sit next to the Cais do Valongo (Valongo Quays), an African heritage site where roughly one million slaves are thought to have arrived in Brazil.
Mayor Eduardo Paes and governor Sérgio Cabral were present at the MAR opening to celebrate along with the ministers of Mines and Energy, Edison Lobão, and of Culture, Marta Suplicy, and José Roberto Marinho, president of the Roberto Marinho Foundation also watched the ceremony. President Rousseff said: “This partnership shows Brazil’s progress. Government and companies are uniting.”
The MAR houses eight exhibition halls in the main building (an old colonial style structure) while the second, once used as a bus station, houses the art school ‘Escola do Olhar’. Both buildings are be joined by a glass walkway as well as an elaborate roof feature designed like a wavy-water surface.
The job of connecting these two very different building styles was a difficult task for architect Bernardo Jacobsen, who explains, “We had the challenge of proposing an icon. The more modern building had two extra floors so we eliminated these to balance the set. Then we built a wave over the two, almost like a flying object.”
Originally used as an office by the port superintendent, the main gallery is, in itself, one of the many reasons people will want to visit the museum. In light of this, the MAR also offers UNESCO recommended activities, multimedia and educational programs, which demonstrate the importance of preserving historical architecture.
Opening with exhibits equally as eclectic as the architecture, the MAR boasts four very different parts. The first is ‘Rio de Imagens: uma paisagem em construção’ (Images of Rio: A landscape under construction), which reviews the city over a period of four centuries and identifies works of art that have come to symbolize the landscape.
O Colecionador (The Collector) is the second exhibition and combines eight very important artistic movements – modernism, surrealism, primitive painting, informal abstract, constructive abstract, new figuration and Russian and Chinese painting.
The third exhibition, ‘Vontade Construtiva’ (Constructive Collection) presents the developments that have shaped art throughout history and, most importantly, the impression these developments have made on Brazilian art.
Finally, ‘O Abrigo e o Terreno’ (The Shelter and the Ground) focuses on the conflict in urban, social and cultural transformations – a particularly fitting topic for Rio where diverse urban spaces have served as a stimulus for many artists both Brazilian and foreign.