03 February 2009

In Country: Museo de Arte de Sao Paulo

Today is our last day in Sao Paulo. Late tonight we fly to Manaus, a city of 2 million people in the middle of the Amazonian jungle.

Before leaving Sao Paulo I wanted to catch one more museum so this morning Fernando, Hope and I headed for the Museo de Arte de Sao Paulo. Considered to be one of the best museums in Sao Paulo, this collection was started after World War II when Europe was in ashes and Brasil was emerging from dictatorship. Because of Europe's weakened state, Brasil was able to pick up paintings by some of the greatest European masters of all time including Picasso, Cezanne, Raphael, Bosch, Constable, Rodin, Monet, Manet, Van Gogh, and Tintoretto. We also managed to see a 2nd century C.E. sarcophagus carved in Rome and a 3rd century C.E. Roman copy of a Greek statue of Eros. Needless to say, this is an art lover's paradise and a world-class museum!

Hope is becoming a first rate museum-goer. Today she brought her notebook and pen and took notes of the paintings she liked. Unfortunately the museum did not allow photos inside so I couldn't capture images of the paintings or of my daughter studying them.

Fernando also enjoyed himself, although he did not know that it's not okay to touch the art work. When we first arrived and were looking at a huge portrait by Thomas Gainsborough he reached out and touched it saying something like "This is not original, right?" Aghast I explained that he can get in lots of trouble with the museum guards, who seemed to be everywhere, and that museum etiquette required that the artwork NOT be touched. We escaped without alarm bells ringing across the gallery. Perhaps I am hyper-sensitive because prior to going to the museum I had read that a couple paintings had been stolen from this museum in December 2007 and again in June 2008. As a result, the curator of the museum had vowed to enhance security measures in the facility, which may account for the number of guards we saw.

One last point about museums in Brasil. Since we have been here, I have viewed about 15 art collections at different museums around the country. And, except for two small museums in Ouro Preto where I paid one or two heis (less than $1 U.S.), all of the museums have been absolutely FREE. Now some of this is just lucky timing. For instance, the museum today is always free on Tuesdays. But some of it is because the Brasilian government and other philanthropists have decided to make the collections available to the public. And this is what seems remarkable! World class exhibits placed inside world class architecture available for viewing at rock bottom prices. Amazing.

1 comment:

Jenna Francisco said...

Thanks for the informative post. As you may have noticed in my post about MASP, when I went there, the permanent collection was closed. I will be going there next week and can't wait!
Good point about most museums being free. Quite unusual!