Museum of Fine Arts | Museu Nacional De Belas Arte

The Museum of Fine Arts is one of the best art museums in Rio de Janeiro

Inside Rio's beautiful Museum of Fine Arts
Inside Rio's beautiful Museum of Fine Arts cc licensed photo by MAHM

Rio’s Museum of Fine Arts (Museu Nacional de Belas Artes) is located in Rio’s central square, Cinelandia. This city centre location is surrounded by beautiful architectural, historic buildings that were mostly built in the early 20th century.

Rio’s Museum of Fine Arts occupies an area of 17,000 square metres and is famous for its large and significant collection of early Brazilian art. Some of these early paintings, from the 19th century were brought overseas in 1807 by King Dom John VI. He brought along a portion of his Royal art collection when the Portuguese Royal family moved to Rio from Lisbon to avoid the invasion of Napoleon’s army. When King John VI returned to Europe in 1821 his cherished Portuguese art collection stayed behind in Brazil.

This art collection became significant in the origin of the National School of Fine Arts. The school started up during the Colonial days of the King Dom John VI. When the Museum of Fine Arts was initiated in 1937 and inaugurated in 1938, it inherited a shared collection of the paintings, sculptures and many more well treasured art pieces from the school and was located in the same 1908 structure. May 1937 this beautiful building was listed as a national heritage site.

Years later the school was transferred to another location, leaving the majority of their collection with the museum. These pieces included Brazilian paintings and sculptures from the 19th-20th century, European art as early as the 13th century until now, plus an assortment African art made of bronze, wood and ivory carvings and other foreign works of art. Some of these valuable pieces include old coins, furniture and decorative arts such as the exquisite French ceramics, and dazzling crystals. This museum has the largest Portuguese art collection with more than 70,000 items and contains a range from High Medieval Period to now.

The assortment of paintings and sculptures were created by many well known artists such as: Nicolas-Antoine Taunay, Felix Taunay, Jean-Baptiste Debret, Candido Portinari, Emiliano de Cavalcanti, Franz Post, Tarsils do Amaral,Manuel de Araujo Porto-alegre, Rodolfo Amoedo, Henrique, Bernardelli, Castagneto, Antonio Parreiras, Victor Meirelles plus many more famous artists. Some of the famous paintings include The First Mass in Brazil, Battle of Guararapes, Coffee, Battle of Avai, The Brazilian lumberjack. There are famous sculptures such as Jesus and the woman taken in adultery, Sculptured by Rodolfo Bernardelli as well as 250 other sculptures and photographs of Bernardelli brothers, that Rodolfo’s brother donated to the museum after his death.

When you enter the museum you go up the flight of stairs to the second floor. This houses permanent painting exhibits such as Pedro Americo’s wall-size canvas “The battle of Avai,” Most of these paintings are created by Brazilian artists living back in the 18 and19 hundreds. The third floor displays a wide range of sculptures and of the fourth storey is the administration and office area.

The museum’s library comprises of rare books, newspapers, textual documents, over 12,000 audiovisual items, iconography, old catalogues and magazines, plus other related material to the museum’s history. Many permanent and temporary exhibits in the building focus on Brazil’s past, giving you a greater understanding of their early culture.

The architectural features of the building are astounding both inside and out. The interior of the building has a wide range of gorgeous intricate details using noble materials like: Crystal, marble, mosaics, and ceramic.

The exterior of the building built in 1908 was an eclectic project. It started with a design created by Spanish architect Adolfo Morales de los Rioa that was greatly influenced by the Louvre Museum in Paris. The structure was altered during construction and fashioned in a combination of the French Renaissance, Italian and Neoclassical architecture with its ancient Roman or Greek style columns.

Facts For Your Visit

Fee: Yes — You can see the current fees at Museu Nacional De Belas Artes Hours and Fees

Address: Av. Rio Branco, 199 - Centro, Rio de Janeiro - RJ, 20040-008, Brazil

Phone: (21) 3299-0600

Official Website: Museu Nacional De Belas Artes

Museu Nacional De Belas Artes Reviews

Rated 4.7 out of 5 Star Rating

5 Star Rating Sunning museum filled with world renowned pieces of fine arts from around the world but with a focus towards highlighting local Brazilian artists who have gained prominence in the recent years. An absolutely extensive collection with art from many different eras and time periods, from 3d sculptures, to modern art selections, to traditional oil paintings. The facilities are relatively modest and only some exhibits have air conditioning which is a great relief if you need a break from the hot Brazilian summers. Restrooms are not clearly marked or easy to navigate but are adequate. Admission price is unbeatable at a price of absolutely free although you do have to store any bags at the coat check. Some special exhibits also require lines and long waits. Waited almost 45 minutes for a special exhibit only to not be very impressed at the small gallery inside.
Victor Wang - 5 years ago

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5 Star Rating I couldn’t visit inside because this place closes earlier on Saturday. The attendant was really helpful and polite. Outside the place is beautiful and has always a police car outside to ensure security
Rafael Gomes - a month ago

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5 Star Rating Interesting collection of imperial and contemporary art. Cost R8 to get in. Well worth it. Contains the largest painting ever commissioned in Brazil. Make sure you ask for a headset guide. It wasn’t offered to me, so I didn’t even know it was an option until too late.
R F - 5 years ago

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5 Star Rating Amazing fine arts' museum. Many galleries showcasing national and international paintings. There is a sculpture gallery and temporary exhibitions as well. What I like the most is the the Battle of Avaí painting which was painted in small parts to make an amazing 600cm x 1100cm mega painting. If you're in Rio, I'm a local guide here. Feel free to get in touch with me through any social media: @DEBOMZAI
Débora Anzai - 5 years ago

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5 Star Rating Nice museum with many different rooms where can you can find different modern art and classic Brazilian art from 19th and early 20th. If you are in the area, I strongly recommend to pay a visit !
Lorenzo Sola - 5 years ago

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Metro Line Nearest Station Walking Time
Line 1 - Orange or Line 2 - GreenCinelândia2 Minutes

How to get to Museu Nacional De Belas Artes by Metro

Exit Cinelândia Station and you will see the Museum of Fine Arts straight ahead to the north right across the road from the Municipal Theatre.

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