The National Fine Arts Museum also known as the Museu Nacional
de Belas Artes, opened in the old National School of Fine Arts building
in Cinelandia in 1937. The museum holds Brazilian works dating back
to the 18th century, as well as, those by foreign artists. The collection
includes paintings, illustrations, and sculptures. The museum also
highlights popular art that is symbolic of each individual region
of the country. These collections include a statue collection, African
art, furniture and numerous temporary exhibitions.
The main focus of the museum is the conservation and communication
of the works and history of both Brazilian and international arts
with a strong focus on how Brazilian art as evolved throughout history.
The museum’s history began in 1808 when King John VI of Portugal
fled to Rio de Janeiro when Portugal was invaded by the French.
He brought with him a collection of Portuguese art. This collection
was the beginning of what would eventually evolve into what is now
the Fine Arts Museum. Joachim Lebreton, a French artist, who arrived
in Brazil in 1816 to help a establish a school for Fine Arts also
contributed to the collections early works. The National School
of Art, now the National Fine Arts Museum, was designed by Grandjean
de Montigny and was inaugurated in 1826 by Brazilian Emperor Peter
During the 1900s, following the Parisian model, the center of Rio
was remodeled and a new building for the School of Fine Arts was
completed in 1908. It was located on what is now Avenida Rio Branco,
which is much closer to the main square of the cities. Since the
School’s beginning, the collection of works has been expanded
and now includes approximately 16,000 pieces. The museum’s
most famous collection is that of 19th and early 20th century painting
and sculpture by Brazilian and foreign artists visiting Brazil.
This collection includes works by Frans Post, Nicolas-Antoine Taunay,
Jean Baptiste Debret, Felix Costa, Rodolfo Bernadelli, Eliseau Visconti,
Candido Portinari, Djanira, Tarsila do Amarl, Emiliano Di Cavalcanti,
Oswaldo Goeldi, Cicero Dias, Lasar Segall, Amilcar de Castro, Louis
Eugene Boudin and Pablo Picasso. The museum also houses an impressive
collection of 16th, 17th and 18th century French and Dutch works.
They also regularly host major exhibitions including Rodin, Miro,
The museum is open Tuesday through Sunday from 12:30 to 7:30pm.
Admission is free and there are several tours that incorporate the
museum into their trips. Other places you may want to visit while
you’re in the neighborhood of the Fine Arts Museum include
the National Library, the Pedro Ernesto Palace and the Municipal
Theatre. All of these locations are within walking distance and
surround Cinelandia Square.