Thursday, August 12, 2010

Visiting the Modern Art Museum in Niterói

What’s to do on a gray and chilly Wednesday in Niterói prior to my afternoon students?

The Contemporary Art Museum (MAC) is free on Wednesdays – although I rarely like the art when I visit. But this month is an art festival at galleries and public spaces throughout the city, including at the MAC. Maybe I’ll have better luck.

It is a mystery to me how such a famous and admired museum building can so consistently hang crappy art. Great architecture – “zero on the left” artwork. (You have been warned.)

But I went for the chance to take some casual photos and report back.

The museum was designed by legendary Brazilian architect Oscar Neimeyer (now 103 years old!). Its distinctive shape instantly became iconographic for the city of Niterói, showing up in the new city logo and used for various department graphics, etc.

Luiz tells me of the old days when the elevated spot of land on which the museum now sits was a “make out point” for generations of natives. Dark, out of the way, lots of stars.  And it had the best hot dog stand in the city.  None of the current nearby apartment buildings existed then.

Archetect Neimeyer understood the value of the visuals atop the little peak and thus designed a building that does not obstruct your view. The building is lifted up over your head so you can still enjoy the views.

The building really is captivating. I can say without hesitation that the building and the surrounding views have been more interesting than the art every time I have visited the museum.

The MAC is a great afternoon destination – but trust me – come on Wednesdays when you don’t have to pay to get in. (Although, c’mon, admission is only R$5)

Oh - and the bistro under the museum is nice (if a bit pricey) with terrific views while sitting and enjoying your meal.  I happen to know a great florist who has dressed the place up a few times for parties.  Check here, here and here.


Zack said...

Ha ha, you are so right about the art, Jim. At least the one time I visited this July. Most interesting piece was the air-driven something or other you could hear all over the exhibit halls. Sounded like some over-weight, flatulent dona de casa...oomph...oomph.

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