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

Official Website: Museu Nacional De Belas Artes

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

Open Now

Regular Hours:
Hours may be subject to change. Please verify on the official website.

  • Tuesday: 10:00 am - 6:00 pm
  • Wednesday: 10:00 am - 6:00 pm
  • Thursday: 10:00 am - 6:00 pm
  • Friday: 10:00 am - 6:00 pm
  • Saturday: 12:00 pm - 5:00 pm
  • Sunday: 12:00 pm - 5:00 pm

Category: Museums

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

Phone: +55 21 2240-0068


Yelp Rating:
4.5 out of 5 4.5 Star Rating
Based on 10 Reviews.

See all reviews on Yelp

5 Star Rating Stumbled upon this museum after getting off the Cinelandia metro station in Rio, and we loved it. Takes about 45 min to browse the entire museum. Some of... Read More

Darya S. Mar-17-2014

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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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Photo Gallery


This video is narrated in Portuguese, but you will see many examples of the works of art on display as well as the fine architecture of the Museum of Fine Arts in Rio de Janeiro

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