Chacara do Ceu Museum, once the home of a successful industrialist
and art enthusiast Raymundo Castro Maya, is also known as the Mansion
in the Sky. The land was inherited in 1936 by Castro Maya and the
building was designed by modernist architect Wladimir Alves de Souza
in 1957. Chacara do Ceu sits on a hill in Santa Teresa, a quiet
neighborhood that is chosen by many artists as a location for their
studios. From the hills of Santa Teresa there are an array of beautiful
views of the Bay and Ruins park. Charcara do Ceu offers a 360 degree
view of Rio and Guanabara Bay.
Charcara do Ceu is today dedicated to the display of art and antiques
that were collected and restored by Castro Maya. The impressive
collection holds works by Picasso, Dali, Braque, Degas, Matisse,
and Monet, as well as Brazilian artists Portinari, Djanira, and
Heitor dos Prazeres. The works are in a range of mediums including
oil paintings, drawings, engravings and watercolors. The collection
also includes 490 watercolors and 61 drawings by Jean Baptiste Debret.
It is said that some of Castro Maya’s most impressive finds
were discovered by accident. Once while he was walking down the
street in Rio a gallery owner called to him from a window and insisted
on showing him a particular collection the gallery was showing.
After viewing the collection he was not impressed and not wanting
to lose his interest, the owner rushed to show him something else.
She took Castro Maya to a storage room where she began to rummage
around. Castro Maya caught sight of a painting that was seemingly
discarded. The owner told him that the woman who had sold it to
her had hated the painting and simply wanted to get rid of it. Castro
Maya took the painting home with him. As it turned out the painting
was done by Antoine Taunay.
The furniture on display at Chacara do Ceu is authentic and are
the original pieces from Castro Maya’s days. There is also
a collection of rare 17th and 18th century maps framed on the walls.
Outside, on the grounds of Chacara do Ceu is a peacefully shaded
garden that offers an amazing view of the city of Rio de Janeiro.
The museum is open 12-5pm, Wednesday through Sunday. Another attraction
in Rio de Janeiro is the Museum do Acude which was a second property
that also belonged at one time to Castro Maya. It has also been
turned into a museum.