By Kate Rintoul, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL — While a lot of the fun in Rio is to be had in the great outdoors, some of the most interesting educational activities for children can be found in the city’s many cultural centers and museums. Knowing about these programs can come in handy on rainy days and can also open up opportunities for children to explore new subjects in some exciting locations.
There are activities that take them on a voyage of discovery from Brazil’s deep indigenous hinterland to understanding a little more about outer space and to making their own mini masterpieces of modern art.
For parents with pre-school children there are many options, one of the most popular is the Museu Internacional de Arte Naïf in the family-friendly Laranjeiras neighborhood. The figurative, colorful and accessible work is appealing for children, the museum’s layout has also been designed with children in mind and individual tours for toddlers can be arranged by calling the museum ahead.
Another museum with a good educational offering for young children is Museu do índio in Botafogo. As well as curating exhibitions specifically aimed at younger museum goers, the museum also sees every space as an educational platform. Their recreations of indigenous settlements, introduces children to cultural diversity through artifacts including weaponry, ritualistic costumes and traditional homes.
Another option in Botafogo, Casa Daros museum of art, runs workshops, that are often led by contemporary artists every Saturday from 3PM in which children can play with materials and explore ideas related to the current exhibitions.
To inspire a love of reading in children, the Casa de Rui Barbosa, also in Botafogo is a good place to start. As the former home of a prominent Brazilian intellectual, the emphasis is on reading and writing, with a dedicated library for children, complete with small reading tables and chairs. The museum also has a unique online learning environment where children can play educational games related to the exhibits before and after their trip.
While not strictly a museum, the recently renovated Biblioteca Parque Estadual in Centro is another fantastic place to get children excited about books, with thousands of titles, specially designed spaces and a program of events to inspire young minds.
Since reopening in April, the program and events at the library have quickly become a popular place to take children. Member of the online parent community, Rio Playgroup, Tiffany Kearney says, “They have started doing story hours for kids, the story hour I went to was just so-so, but it was the first time they did it and the facilities at the new library are wonderful. They were also doing a film festival of shorts for kids.”
Along with all these educational activities, the new library, along with all of the other museums mentioned are also home to excellent family-orientated coffee shops which is good for parents with young children who need a pit-stop for feeds and maintaining caffeine levels. Da Cozinha Café at the Museu Internacional De Arte Naif is especially popular thanks to its focus on organic ingredients and their brunch is just the kind of brain food a family needs before touring the exhibits.
For older childrenThe Planetarium and Museum of the Universe in Gavea is a good place as the subject matter is more complex, there are special events and if you call ahead special sessions in English can be arranged so children can learn more about astronomy. Another member of Rio Playgroup Maria Carolina Carnaúba says her children love their visits here, “Vacation camp at Planetarium is awesome, once in a month, kids can sleep in the museum!”