By Chesney Hearst, Senior Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Following four years of extensive restorations, Rio’s Museu Nacional (National Museum) has re-opened two of its largest gallery spaces. Every year, more than 300,000 people visit the museum located in the Zona Norte (North Zone) neighborhood of São Cristóvão, set in the historic Quinta da Boa Vista Park and formerly an imperial palace until the coup of 1889.

The two sides of the beauty of butterflies, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil News
“The two sides of the beauty of butterflies” Butterflies exhibited at the Museu Nacional in Quinta Da Boa Vista, press image.

With the re-opening, the public will once again have access to more than 2,000 ​unique items displayed in the galleries’ ​completely restored space. Fans of entomology, fauna and invertebrates will not only find refurbished exhibits, but newcomers including a life-size replica of a giant squid, two stunning enlargements of microscopic insects and an installation showing the synchronized flight of a flock of butterfly.

The two galleries re-opened to the public at the start of October and will now house the permanent exhibit entitled, “Conchas, Corais e Borboletas” (“Shells, Corals and butterflies”), comprising items from the specialist galleries that were first unveiled in 1960.

“I was in the museum exactly one year ago, I love it there,” Recreio resident Leonardo Lima told The Rio Times. “Not just the museum, but the entire area of São Cristóvão, there are so many historic places, museums and good food in the area,” said Lima adding, “I want to go there now and visit the renovated old areas”.

The museum’s official mission behind the renovations is “aimed at preservation and dissemination of the collections and the processes related to recent research in the fields of Entomology and Invertebrates, highlighting the most relevant examples of Brazilian and foreign fauna that make up the collection… Emphasis was given to the aspects of their natural habitats, history of the research conducted on the topic and its connection with the environment in contemporary societies.”

The exhibit is divided into seven sections; biology, anatomy, geographical distribution, habitat, scientific importance, economic importance, and variability of the species.

To better present the exhibits, a new lighting system is also in place for windows and rooms of the galleries that will also house 27 entomological boxes and four totems for biomes. Six further totems house screens playing videos related the exhibits and additional information panels.

The National Museum is located in the former Imperial residence in Quinta de Boa Vista Park, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil News
The National Museum, formerly the Paço Imperial, photo by Halley Pacheco de Oliveira/Wikimedia Creative Commons License.

The permanent “Shells, Corals, Butterflies” exhibition will join those already housed in the National Museum including the oldest skeleton discovered in Latin America known as “Luzia”; original and replicas dinosaur fossils; and the largest meteorite – all 5.36 tons of it – ever found in Brazil.

Originally founded in 1818 by the King of Portugal, Dom João VI to promote cultural and economic progress in Brazil, the museum was moved from its original location of Campo de Santana to the the Paço de São Cristóvão (São Cristóvão Palace), the former Imperial Family residence located in Quinta da Boa Vista Park, São Cristóvão, after the Imperial Family left Brazil.

Over time, the National Museum was integrated with the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ) whose Departments of Anthropology, Botany, Entomology, Geology, Paleontology and Invertebrate use the collections for research and help to preserve them.

What: Exposição Conchas, Corais, Borboletas (Shells, Corals, Butterflies)
When: Tues-Sun, 10AM-4PM.
Where: National Museum/UFRJ, Quinta da Boa Vista, São Cristóvão
TEL: (21) 2562-6900
Tickets: R$3. For more information visit


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