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

Official Website: National Historical Museum

Fee: Yes

Closed Now

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

  • 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 pm - 5:00 pm
  • Sunday: 1:00 pm - 5:00 pm

Category: Museums

Address: Praça Marechal Âncora, s/n
Rio de Janeiro - RJ 20021-200

Phone: +55 21 3299-0324


Yelp Rating:
4.5 out of 5 4.5 Star Rating
Based on 15 Reviews.

See all reviews on Yelp

4 Star Rating This museum was originally a fortress and weapons depot that dates back to when Brazil was still a colony. The cannons in the courtyard are a dead giveaway... Read More

Tyler L. Apr-01-2023

4 Star Rating The Brazilian National History Museum was marvelous. I was a bit suspicious of a national history museum that wasn't in the capital, but the Rio National... Read More

Thomas R. Feb-19-2023

5 Star Rating My friend and I learned so much about Brazil at the Museum of National History! There was an English-speaking woman there who helped us out a lot.... Read More

Darya S. Mar-17-2014

Accommodations near 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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Photo Gallery


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

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