An architecturally impressive lakeside gallery and gardens celebrate Brazilian art from the 19th century onward with an emphasis on stateside artists.
Exhibitions of modern and contemporary art are on display in the Pampulha Art Museum (Museu de Arte da Pampulha or MAP). Spot masterpieces sourced from the museum’s collection of around 1,500 works by Brazilian artists. In addition to the exhibitions, the Pampulha Art Museum puts on regular public events such as concerts, debates and workshops.
The museum building itself is a work of art and was created by the acclaimed national architect Oscar Niemeyer. Originally built as a casino in 1940, a nationwide ban on gambling in 1946 lead to it being unused for about a decade. It became a museum in 1957, which saw the spacious rooms with mirror-covered walls redesigned into gallery halls. Outside, native plants and sculptures by Alfredo Ceschiatti and José Pedrosa are part of the Roberto Burle Marx-designed garden.
On a visit you can see landscapes by Alberto da Veiga Guignard, paintings of colorful urban scenes by Emiliano Di Cavalcanti and expressionist pieces by Iberê Camargo. There are also sculptures by Amilicar de Castro, Franz Weissman and Tomie Ohtake. Browse a display of Brazilian engravings, most notably by Oswaldo Goeldi.
The museum forms part of the Oscar Niemeyer-designed Pampulha Architectural Complex, which became a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2016. This series of buildings set around Lake Pampulha is widely considered to be Niemeyer’s first recognized works. One of the major highlights is the Church of St. Francis of Assisi, characterized by its curving parabolas and mosaics. The Casa do Baile is a café and cultural center set on its own island.
Located on the northern banks of Lake Pampulha, the museum is 9 miles (15 kilometers) north of Belo Horizonte’s city center. The most convenient way to get here is to take a taxi. Free parking is available, if you arrive via car. You can get here by public bus, but you’ll need to change lines several times.
Pampulha Art Museum is open from Tuesday to Sunday and admission is free.