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.

Brazil News, Rio de Janeiro, Museums, Copacabana, Culture, Delays, MIS, Museo da Imagem e do som
The MIS construction site sits on Copacabana Beach, photo by Secretaria de Cultura.

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.

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil News, Culture, Art, Architecture, Copacabana, Delays
An artistic impression of what the new museum will look like, photo courtesy of MIS–RJ.

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.


  1. It is with much sadness that an Institution to the true Carioca spirit of hedonism,being the iconic Club Help, was closed down permanently for the construction of a debatable Museum that is as yet, still unfinished, despite cash-flush development partners such as the Roberto Marinho Foundation’s involvement in the project.

    Whether Cariocas like to admit it or not, Club Help was a true cultural icon and beacon of light to lonely and weary travellers from far and wide to your beautiful and maravilhosa city. Despite its notorious reputation as being a den of iniquity, it served a valuable function in a contemporary society such as Rio de Janeiro.

    I know that naysayers will advise that it promoted trafficking of women and illicit criminal activity; however on a purely philosophical level, in my view, it represented an oasis of life, light, colour and music and a celebration to the irrepressibly authentic Brazilian female spirit.

    At that level alone, it would have functioned as a far more interesting museum to Brazilian anthropology than some pseudo-intellectual monolith designed and thought up by super wealthy Brazilians who are so out of touch with life on the street of Rio.

    Your city’s attempts to “modernise” and “clean up” its image for FIFA 2014 and Rio 2016 campaigns runs the risk of destroying its authentic sensual essence which is as much part of Rio as is futebol, cachaca and Carnaval.

    This is a heritage that must be protected Rio, else you will become another bland western society full of fast food joints, a universal dull culture and a lost heritage. Do not make the same mistakes that western Europe has made in the Americanisation of its cultures so that all food everywhere in western Europe tastes the same and is the same, but is passed off as being unique.

    I do hope and pray that my comments are taken seriously and are published in this online newspaper, and in homage to my spirit of real affection and love of a Cidade Maravilho whose wonderful memories are forever etched in the deep recesses of my mind.

    Saude Cariocas!!

  2. I totally agree with you Barry Varkel.

    At most they should have build a beautiful new hotel in traditional art deco style architect,
    with an under ground night club (called HELP) – sweeping balcony’s front and back,
    rooms for all prices ranges.. but know.. that would be far to advanced and intelligent.



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