By Saira Ansari, Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The Museu Nacional de Belas Artes or MNBA (National Museum of Fine Arts) is one of the most important arts and culture institutions in Rio de Janeiro and Brazil. With over 70,000 pieces in its fine arts collection and 19,000 titles in its library, it hosts some of the most important and exquisite collections of Brazilian art.

The painting gallery overlooking painted battle scenes, MNBA, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, News
The painting gallery overlooking painted battle scenes, photo by Saira Ansari.

Located in Centro, across from Cinelândia, the MNBA is a landmark in the cultural history of Brazil. Established in 1937 and inaugurated a year later, the museum owes its rich compilation to a large portion of European Art that was brought over to Brazil by John VI of Portugal in 1808.

The collection was greatly added to after the founding of the Imperial Academy of Fine Arts in 1826 by the French Artistic mission that forever changed the arts in Brazil. The museum also became the benefactor of the collection of the National School of Fine Arts.

Today the vast collection contains works of painting, drawing, sculpture, installation, engraving, decorative art, furniture, folk art and a set of pieces of African art. It also boasts several renowned international names in its itinerary, including works of those artists who spent some of their time working and producing art in Brazil.

The nineteenth century section contains many extraordinary pieces from the religious, genre, portraiture, political and colonial segments. The modern and contemporary art section contains multidisciplinary artworks that show how the local artists responded to the global art movements.

MNBA (Museu Nacional de Belas Artes)
In the sculpture gallery of the MNBA, photo by Saira Ansari.

A sculptures section features stunning replicas in marble and bronze of some of the most celebrated artworks from across the European world.

Other than the permanent displays, there are several sections in the building where the organizing body rotates collections and puts on display new items every couple of months. At the moment there is a watercolor and drawing collection featuring previously unseen work from the main holdings and a special print-makers section featuring important movements in the field.

The multitudes of visitors include tourists and locals alike. A couple visiting from Europe expressed their delight and said, “We always make it a point to visit cultural centers and museums when we travel to a new place as we are absolute art aficionados. This museum has not disappointed us at all and we were especially very happy to see that the artwork’s titles and descriptions have English translations as well.”

Also on display is a multimedia exhibition of the animated film RIO that can be seen until October 30th. The exhibit showcases the journey of the artists and writers who pay homage to the Cidade Maravilhosa in this production.

The exhibition is specially geared towards children, with its colorful layout and the specially designed video-game booths. This section is very popular with families all week round.

The MNBA (Museu Nacional de Belas Artes) is at Av. Rio Branco, 199 – Centro (Cinelândia), Rio de Janeiro. Open Tuesday to Friday 10AM-6PM; Saturdays, Sundays and holidays 12PM-5PM. Tickets are R$8, for children R$4 and free on Sundays.


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