Av. Afonso Pena, 3761, Belo Horizonte, BR, 30130-008
- Phone: (55) 31 21118900
- Fax: (55) 31 21118901
Arts & Museums
The building designed by late Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer first opened in 1940 as a casino. It was converted into an art museum in 1957, after gambling was made illegal in the country. The museum is the oldest of the buildings that comprise the Pampulha Architectural Complex, which also includes a social club, a dance hall and a church. The museum has a collection of 1,500 pieces. They host regular exhibitions, music concerts, talks, workshops, movies and other activities. The surrounding gardens were designed by landscape artist Roberto Burle Marx, who was famous for exploring the richness of Brazilian flora in his compositions. Guided tours can be booked in advance by phone.
The Embroidery Museum is a private gallery maintained by contemporary artist Beth Lirio. It is entirely dedicated to preserving the history of needlework in Brazil. Lirio uses embroidery and crocheting in her own work and has spent the past few years curating, cataloging and restoring pieces to display at the museum. These pieces are exhibited according to the period they belong to, materials and techniques used. The collection includes items of clothing, bed linen, tablecloths, tea towels and decorative pieces, the oldest of which date from the 18th century. Entrance to the Museum is free, but all visits must be prearranged by phone or email.
This museum is run by the Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG), a space dedicated to research and preservation of native fauna and flora as part of the UFMG Agricultural Institute. The Museum of Natural History officially opened in 1969 and the surrounding green area was also opened to the public as a botanical garden. They have permanent and temporary exhibitions in various scientific fields, including paleontology, archaeology and biology, some with interactive displays. The top attraction, though, is the Presépio do Piripipau, an animated nativity scene depicting the entire life of Jesus Christ in 45 scenes illustrated by 580 figures. This was constructed by local artist Raimundo Azevedo in 1906 and donated to the Museum in 1976.
Giramundo is a successful puppet theater company based in Belo Horizonte. Throughout the past four decades, the company has toured nationally and internationally. The museum opened in 2001 and is focused on preserving the history of the company's shows, puppets and puppeteers. Giramundo has a collection of around 1000 puppets, all made by the company and all used in their shows (some of them are still active). They currently have five different exhibitions: Animal Puppets, Puppets of Brazil, Heroes and Villains, Puppets and Music, and Animatronics. Visits to the museum are always guided and they also offer puppeteer workshops, talks and courses.
The Museum of Arts and Crafts has been open to the public since 2006. It occupies a space in Belo Horizonte's Central Station, a magnificent building dating from the late 19th century. The Station and adjacent square are as old as the city itself and have been beautifully restored with the opening of the Museum. In this space, you will find a curious collection of items related to pre-industrial labor in Brazil, divided by field. There are tools, utensils, machines and other objects used by butchers, tanners, cooks, brewers, dentists, cheesemongers, miners, etc, between the 17th and 20th century. Entry is free on Saturdays and after 5pm on Wednesdays and Thursdays, paid on other days and times.
Mercado das Borboletas is an ambitious project started in 2010 and is still in progress. The brainchild of a group of local artists, it is a multi-arts complex, market and entertainment venue in the busy Belo Horizonte city center. Mercado das Borboletas occupies a space on the 3rd floor of a previously derelict building and aims at providing a space for alternative, independent and grassroots artists of all types to showcase their work. They hold markets, exhibitions, performances concerts, club nights and other creative events of all sorts, always aiming to encourage sustainable practices. Check their website for their events listings every week.
Located in one of the heritage buildings in Belo Horizonte's city center, the Contemporary Art & Photography Center has been a cultural hub since 1997, when it was still managed by Rio-based Moreira Salles Institute (IMS). It is now locally run by the Clovis Salgado Foundation, but it still organizes exhibitions and other events in partnership with the IMS. The Center has a permanent collection of photographs and hosts temporary exhibitions every season. It is also a space dedicated to artistic research, production and debate, promoting courses, talks and workshops and offering studio space for visual artists to work in.
Brazil is considered a paradise for the mining of gemstones and precious metals, mostly gold and platinum. A great part of this mining happens in the state of Minas Gerais, whose name translates as 'general mines.' Irffi is a traditional company dedicated to stone-carving, producing beautiful decorative objects and exclusive accessories using locally-sourced Brazilian gemstones. You can visit Irffi's workshop and gallery of stones and minerals, and then buy the products or the rough gems in the shop. All products come with an authenticity certificate. Staff members are bilingual and happy to show you round the gallery and help you find the perfect gift or treat for yourself.
The state of Minas Gerais started developing in the late 17th century when gold mining expanded in the region. By 1897 the local government decided to move the capital city from Ouro Preto to a new spot, then called Cidade de Minas (City of Mines). This eventually became Belo Horizonte, a modern, rich and influential city. In order to reflect this, architects Luiz Signorelli and Rafaello Berti were commissioned in 1936 to design the town hall. The building is a fabulous example of Art Deco architecture prevailing in the 1920s and 1930s, with straight lines and an impressive clock tower. There is an art gallery in the building, and the foyer usually serves as a venue for events and exhibitions too.
The Mineiro Museum is part of the Liberdade Cultural Circuit, located in the old Minas Gerais Senate building, which dates from 1895. The collection of paintings, sculptures and archaeological objects that composes the museum was started in 1910 and was kept in the Public Archives building. It was not until 1982 that the Mineiro Museum opened as such, and its collection now has over 2,600 items between works of art, documents, personal objects, photographs and furniture. Their sacred art collection dating from the colonial period (17th-18th centuries) deserves special attention. Guided tours are available upon request.
The Minas Gerais Public Archives were founded in the city of Ouro Preto in 1895 and transferred to Belo Horizonte in 1901. It has been in its current location since 1938, a mansion that used to be the residence of the state treasurer. The archives have an extensive collection of documents, movies, photos and maps pertaining to the three different periods in Brazilian history. Special highlights of the collection here are 18th-century maps, rare publications (including some clandestine ones) and records on the Inconfidencia Mineira (Minas Gerais Conspiracy) in 1789, an important revolution against Portuguese domination over Brazilian territories.
Lourdes Basilica is consecrated to Our Lady of Lourdes, legendary representation of Virgin Mary that would have appeared in France in the 19th century. This magnificent church was built between 1916 and 1923 and was elevated to the category of Basilica by Pope Pio XII in 1958, due to its importance, historical context and refined architecture. Minas Gerais has a tradition of richly decorated churches, but the most relevant of these are located in Congonhas, Ouro Preto, Tiradentes and Mariana, all quite far from the capital. If you can't afford to go to these towns, a visit to the Resurrection Chapel inside Lourdes Basilica is highly recommended, as it houses small replicas of the other historical churches around the state.