National Historical Museum

The National Historical Museum (Museu Historico Nacional) is known to be one of the most important museums in Brazil

Flags outside the entrance of Museu Histórico Nacional
Flags outside the entrance of Museu Histórico Nacional cc licensed photo by Charlie Phillips

The National Historical Museum (Museu Historico Nacional) is known to be one of the most important museums in Brazil. It highlights, through its exhibitions and artefacts, the social as well as economic history of Brazil.

It was by decree of President Epitacio Pessoa that the National Historical Museum (Museu Historico Nacional) was created in 1922, it officially started its activities in October of that same year. The building, however, was not built that year but was in fact built many years prior to that in 1603 as the St James of Mercy Fort. The building of the structure at that particular point was a defensive military strategy. Other buildings built in the area included a prison for slaves called the Calaboose Prison.

When the museum was first started it only utilized the St James of Mercy Fort but after being in operation for 75 years the fort alone could not hold the ever enlarging collection of artefacts. This is when other structures at Calaboose Point started to be utilized. The museum now includes the Barracks, the ammunition depot, the Calaboose Prison and the War arsenal. The total area of the museum today is 20,000 m2.

The museum has 25 permanent exhibits as well as non permanent ones with the largest numismatic collections of Latin America, you will also find extensive paintings and a sacred art exhibitions of shrines. For those of you more interested in reading about the history of Brazil there are over 50,000 documents as well as photographs and in the library you will find close to 58,000 titles dating as far back as the 15th century. You will also see a large collection of coins and paper money from Latin America. Through its artifacts and documentation you get to learn about the history of Brazil from the colonial times to the modern day. This helps you to better understand the country of Brazil and its people.

Most of the collection was amassed when the Ministry of Culture was responsible for the museum. It was the first museum in Brazil to run museology courses, making it the leading educational institution for many of the other local museums.

A trip to the National Historic Museum is well worth it, especially if you are interested in getting a more in depth look into Brazil.

Facts For Your Visit

Fee: No

Open Now

Hours This Week:
  • Monday: Closed
  • Tuesday: 10:00 AM – 5:30 PM
  • Wednesday: 10:00 AM – 5:30 PM
  • Thursday: 10:00 AM – 5:30 PM
  • Friday: 10:00 AM – 5:30 PM
  • Saturday: 1:00 – 5:00 PM
  • Sunday: 1:00 – 5:00 PM

Address: Praça Mal. Âncora, s/n - Centro, Rio de Janeiro - RJ, 20021-200, Brazil

Phone: (21) 3299-0324

Official Website: National Historical Museum


Metro Line Nearest Station Walking Time
Line 1 - Orange or Line 2 GreenCarioca13 Minutes

How to get to National Historical Museum by Metro

Make your way to Carioca Station and take the south exit to Av. Almirante Barroso follow it to your left (east). When you reach Av. Presidente Antonio Carlos cross at the cross walk just to your right and continue east along Rua Marechal Aguinaldo Caiado de Castro all the way to the museum.

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Rated 4.7 out of 5National History Museum Star Rating

5 Star Rating A fantastic collection of exhibits including one of the best and most varied collection of textile, basketry work, potterry and weapons of many tribes in Brasil plus the usual paintings and european paraphernalea. Definitely worth a visit.

Salvador Menjivar - 12 days ago

5 Star Rating The best part is the Native American and African history, but not enough of the slaves culture and tradition.

MMelom - 17 days ago

5 Star Rating A very informative and beautiful nationalistic collection. I learned a great deal about the history of Brazil here, and took a few great keepsake photos. I especially liked the carriage collection and the painting of the whales in the bay.

gkaylor1 - 4 months ago

5 Star Rating So many history to be seen with R$10 entrance fee.. The place is also nice to take pictures from the inside and outside. You can learn the history of Brazil at this Muzium. Just be aware of the opening time at 1300 hrs on Saturday & Sunday.

Emielea Mansoor - 4 months ago

5 Star Rating This is such a spectacular exhibition of Brazilian history and culture. Nevertheless; it leaves you with many questions and uneasy thoughts. For a country that had so much wealth and still does - where is the fair distribution of the wealth amongst the population? The Brazilian artists and master craftsmen were as good as their European counterparts but their pieces are absent from most west galleries - how come? The contemporary section of the museums boasts that Brazil produces surplus fuel for domestic demand but only a month ago, the country was shutdown due to truck drivers striking over the cost of petroleum - how does this occur? Like most museums, slavery is an ugly past but I think it deserves great recognition in the collection to recognise that such incredible development was at the cost of many individuals’ liberties

David Maddison - 6 months ago


This slide show and video captures many of the historical artifacts as well as the architecture of the National Historical Museum in Rio de Janeiro

Photo Gallery

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