Monday, January 13, 2014

Catching the wind - São Paulo

Arrival at the Catavento...
I have blogged once before about the Catavento Museum (catavento means pinwheel) in São Paulo. It is a beautiful building with interesting exhibits, and the really good news is that it keeps getting better. Unlike Butantan which seems to get more decrepit each time I visit, the Catavento has added new exhibits and surprised and delighted me each time.

At the entrance to the museum, there is now a sign that says that Catavento is the most visited museum in Brazil with more than 4,000 visitors a day. That is not bad for Brazil, especially when you consider that it is hardly easy to get there to the Palacio das Industrias--this was the first time ever we have gotten there in one shot rather than having to loop around again (and for this I'd like to thank waze). We do not need to compare ourselves with the Louvre with its 23,000 visitors per day. After all, they've got the Mona Lisa. We have the tatu-gigante (giant armadillo). Which would you rather?

Me too. After a first exhibit with colored sand that kids can build into all kinds of mountains and cause rain to fall with their hands (hard to explain), we found the tatu-gigante. I for one am glad I don't have to worry about running into one of these on my street any time soon (they became extinct 10,000 years ago). Knowing my boys, they are disappointed by the same thought.

After this mandatory photo stop, we went through the natural history area with videos of the Pantanal, bird calls, a sabertooth tiger and a new live exhibit of stick insects. A new exhibit on venomous animals of Brazil so completely kicks Butantan's butt I might have to send the info on to the snake and scorpion folks and tell them to get it into gear.

Read it and weep, Butantan.

BH's favorite part of the museum is the physics area with hands-on explanations of various science-y things. Clearly I am a liberal arts graduate. Gravity, electricity, light waves, running horses, bendy waves and weight lifting were all discussed. I think. I was busy watching kids encase themselves in large soap bubbles. 

Science-y stuff

Another recent addition to the museum is a tiny shop that sells educational toys. Science toys. Real science--tornado formation, how things roll up hill, etc. All at reasonable prices like US$5-10. No crap like at US museums like plastic dinosaurs and sparkly wands. Love it.

Upstairs my 7 year olds just ran out of gas, but we walked through one exhibit that was excruciatingly educative. They had photos of people before they became drug addicted, and then photos of them (mug shots really) after they had become addicted to meth or cocaine or whatever. If you ever need to scare the poop out of your kids, that's a good place. Better than scorpions really.

Highly recommend.


  1. I'm amazed how many museums and other public spaces you find in Sao Paulo that I've never heard about. Or maybe they didn't exist when I lived there. Either way, they are going on the list for my trip in a few months time. I doubt I'll be able to see more than one or two but it's good to have the options to choose from.

    1. I think Catavento opened in 2009 so yes, that one is post your departure (I think you said you've lived abroad 10 years of so). It is a great museum--wish it were easier to get to, or in a better area. I don't love the Mercado Municipal area and its bums. Definitely go to Catavento with your daughter!!

      You just touched on my new mission for the next 8 months until I leave. I am going to try to seek out and visit every single museum in São Paulo (okay, within reason...). Next up is Japanese Immigration Museum and then there's one at the monasterio São Bento I may try to peruse. Prepare to lengthen your list ;)

    2. Yes, that's right. I think a number of these places opened up more recently. I'm really glad to see things improving even if I'm not able to enjoy them first-hand.

      I like the idea, a bucket list of sorts. Places to see and things to do before while they are still reasonably accessible.