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Beam me up, Artsy

Niteroi Museum..........................(nit5.jpg)

I swear, I’ve seen this place before. Was it watching old reruns of The Jetsons on childhood Saturday mornings? Or maybe it’s that restaurant in the middle of LAX (Los Angeles International Airport). It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s… an art museum?  Or more specifically, the Museu de Arte Contemporânea MAC de Niterói, Brazil’s main home for contemporary art.

Niteroi Museum..........................(nit4.jpg)

“Welcome to the future,” the building seems to beep, androidenously. “Let me take you there.” Or at least the future as imagined by centenarian Oscar Neimeyer. The building fits snugly into the style niche of 1950s Modern Architecture, a throwback to the origins of the jet set space age. Funny then that its construction began in 1991 and was completed in December of 1996.

Niteroi Museum..........................(nit1.jpg)

Not to say that the structure is unexceptional – far to the contrary. Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of the museum, more talked about for its architecture than for the art it contains, is the way it simultaneously embraces its natural surroundings and stands out from them. The large band of windows that entirely encircles the main gallery provides sweeping views of the gorgeous Guanabara Bay, Sugarloaf Mountain, and the city of Rio de Janeiro, with its famous Christ the Redeemer statue.

Niteroi Museum..........................(nit.jpg)

The road to Niterói from Rio de Janeiro takes the common taxi through the air and across the 8.25 mile long Rio-Niterói Bridge, which sits 5.49 miles above the water. Before entering the mothership, all visitors must walk a winding red carpet in the sky. Look down from this perch – two bodies of water shimmer below you, the bay below the cliff and a reflecting pool upon it, from the center of which the stem of the building emerges.

Niteroi Museum..........................(nit2.jpg)

After all this, what about the art? Isn’t that the whole point of an art museum? The MAC has collected and houses major pieces from Rio’s foremost collectors – pieces that until its inception were scattered around the city. Film screenings are held in the caverns of the windowless lower level, and community programs bring school kids and interested adults to the museum to explore the world of Brazilian contemporary art. RS

nit.....................................(nit3.jpg)

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  • AJB

    December 1, 2012

    Wonderful tribute to a great man.

  • RS

    January 14, 2009

    To clear up confusion (mostly on my part), I think the distinction should be made that 5.49 miles of the 8.25 mile long bridge sit over the water. Thanks for catching that AER.

  • AER

    January 12, 2009

    The Rio-Niterói Bridge sits ‘5.49 miles’ above the water…really? Niow that’s amazing. The article should be about that bridge! All joking aside, wonder what the Paulistas have to say about Niteroi being the main center of contemporary Brazilian art.

  • Heinz

    January 11, 2009

    Super cool. Brazil, Brazil

Any comments?