Friday, January 3, 2014

All this and it's free? - São Paulo

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Yesterday, my parents, my twin boys and I drove through the almost-deserted São Paulo streets to visit the Museu Afro-Brasil in Parque Ibirapuera. A trip that would take me 35-45 minutes in regular traffic took 15 minutes. Please, paulistanos, do not come back from vacation. Stay where you are.

Not an official museum photo. Twin hands.

Okay, so that's not my point. We took advantage of quiet São Paulo to visit one of the museums I have never visited. The Museu Afro-Brasil was inaugurated in 2004 and has more than 5000 pieces. There is a mix of old items from the 15th century as well as contemporary "crafts" from the north of Brazil. The lower two floors house temporary exhibitions (10 were there yesterday) and the upper floor which is ENORMOUS houses the permanent collection. I would recommend that you start with the upper floor so as not to get overwhelmed -- especially if you are visiting with children who will love the Saci, Carnaval and figurine exhibits.

They do not allow photography of any kind in any part of the museum except for one small area where artifacts from slavery are exhibited (hence all photos here are official museum photos). I am glad they don't allow it; it gave us a chance to really look and appreciate and absorb. We all spend so much time getting the great photo that we forget to read and appreciate. 

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It is, in a word, breathtaking. An airy beautiful space with just an amazing variety of art--painting, ceramics, characters from Carnaval, slavery shackles, puppets and statues. The kids were entertained by all of the animal art--alligators and lions and all kinds of stuff. In the end, though, the place is just so huge that it is overwhelming. We left after an hour when the kids started to get hungry, but I will definitely be back to explore.

 More visit info:

To my great surprise, entry is absolutely free to everyone. They do accept donations which I encourage everyone to make. You cannot take in bags or backpacks but they do provide a place to store them. By the way, English translations are not available but according to the helpful guards (who kept close when the 7 year old twins were near the ceramics especially) you can arrange for a group tour with an English-speaking guide. Go at a cooler time of year--there is no airconditioning in the building and with temperatures topping 90F, we suffered more than a little bit.

Website (in Portuguese) of the museum is here:

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