Recife, Pernambuco, Brazil

Museums of São Paulo

April 30th, 2014 | Posted by Ian in Brazil | The Places We've Been
Pinacoteca do Estado de São Paul

Inside Pinacoteca

São Paulo has a lot of museums. Like a ton. Here are some that we have never been to and thus can’t speak to their quality:

  • Museu do Ipiranga - Technically the Museu Paulista da Universidade de São Paulo, this museum focuses on the history of Brazil and the state of São Paulo. It is São Paulo’s most famous and popular museum.
  • Memorial da America Latina - Designed by Brazil’s most famous architect, Oscar Niemeyer, the Latin America Memorial was formerly the meeting place of the Latin American Parliament. Today it hosts permanent and temporary exhibits, as well as frequent cultural events.
  • Museu do Arte São Paulo (MASP) - Located on SP’s famous Avenida Paulista, MASP is also the city’s most popular art museum, covering Antiquity through modern times.
  • Instituto ButantanWith five separate museum wings (Biology, Microbiology, Serpentarium, History, and Public Health), Butantan is another very popular destination for learning.
  • Museu de Arte Contemporânea - Museum of Contemporary Art
  • Museu de Arte Sacra - Museum of Sacred Art
  • Museu de Arte Brasileira- Museum of Brazilian Art
  • Museu de Arte Moderna - I feel like given the past few entries you should be able to figure out what kind of a museum this is.
  • Museu da Casa BrasileiraChronicles the history and traditions of Brazilian houses.
  • Museu da Imagem e Som de São Paulo - The Museum of Image and Sound of São Paulo displays photographs, video, and sound recording from São Paulo.
  • Museu de Arqueologia e Etnologia – Archaeology and anthropology museum focused on the indigenous peoples of Brazil
  • Museu Afro-Brasileiro - Details the history and influence of Africans in Brazil.

In addition to those, we have actually had up close and personal experiences with three other of São Paulo’s museum:

Museu do Futebol

Our trip to the Museu do Futebol at Estádio do Pacaembu (home of Sporting Club Corinthians) has been previously detailed by Brianna here.

Jardim da Luz

Jardim da Luz

Pinacoteca do Estado de São Paulo

Picacoteca, as it is usually shortened, is located in/adjacent to the southeast corner of Jardim da Luz (literally “garden of light”), a popular but tranquil park that was apparently a common meeting/relaxing place for high society at the beginning of the twentieth century. On the Saturday afternoon we were there, Jardim da Luz was a fascinating mix of characters, full of families and vagrants and musicians and hookers and chess-players and drunks and painters. After trying and failing to enter the museum from the park itself (you have to walk around to the street side), we made our way up the front steps, got our tickets (FREE ON SATURDAYS!), and spent the next couple hours wandering around.


The building itself is very cool. A couple decent-sized courtyard areas are found in the interior, though the roof has been closed off with translucent glass. The ground floor was pretty blah. Mostly temporary modern exhibits that tried really hard to be original and thought-provoking, but kind of fell on their faces. How moved can one really be by seeing a fan blow into a blue sheet? The first floor (sorry fellow Americans, everywhere else in the world the first floor is actually up one level up from the entrance) was much more interesting, at least to my untrained eye. Room after room of drawings, paintings, and sculptures by Brazilian artists from colonial times until the mid-twentieth century, with representatives from all walks of Brazilian culture and life, could keep one entertained and reaching into the past for quite a long time. Strange how colors on a canvas can make you start to associate feelings and emotions with a place you presume to know very little about.

Estação Luz

Estação Luz

Museu da Língua Portuguesa

Directly across the street from Pinacoteca is the Museum of the Portuguese Language, located in the magnificent Estação Luz (São Paulo’s oldest operating train station, completed in 1901). Amazingly, it is also free on Saturdays! Inside is a small-but-not-tiny museum housing exhibits detailing the history of Portuguese in Brazil, explaining influences from native, African, and other European languages over the past half millenium. Interactive displays let visitors watch videos, learn about word origins, and hear differences between the Portuguese spoken in Brazil, Portugal, and the Lusophone countries of Africa. Very interesting stuff, though you will need to be able to read at least a little Portuguese (or Spanish) in order to get anything out of it, as there are no supplementary English materials.





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