Beyond the walls: 6 open-air museums in Brazil

Discover the open-air museums that dialogue between art, nature and the country's history.

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

The spring-summer season starts to get more summer than spring and the first thing you need to do is schedule your visit to an open-air museum. After all, these spaces are considered true delicacies around the world because they have the ability to unite art and nature in the most organic way possible. After making a final selection of the best open-air museums around the world, we separate six spaces from the north to the south of Brazil that are worth knowing now! 

1. Art Factory In Pernambuco 

Photo: Andréa Rêgo Barros.

In 1998, in the city of Água Preta, Zona da Mata Sul in the state of Pernambuco, one of the largest sugarcane mills in the region, ended its milling activities. What used to be a center for the production of sugarcane, sugar and alcohol, today has become a true artistic-botanical park that encourages the region with a new form of environmental, economic and cultural occupation. 

The project began when designer Hugo França contacted the great-grandson of the plant's founder and they created Usina de Arte alongside Bárbara Maranhão. Since then, the industrial space has been transformed into ateliers, classrooms and galleries, in addition to encouraging the work of artists such as Lais Myrrha and José Rufino. 

Image: “the part of the earth”, Lais Myrrha. 

The installation "the part of the earth” is actually a Land Art – that is, a work that not only relates to nature, but is also part of it. Authored by artist Lais Myrrha from Minas Gerais, the work is located in the center of the landscape and transforms the hill it occupies into an architectural element. 

José Rufino and worker during the production of “Opera Hominum” (2016).

José Rufino, one of the founders of Usina de Arte, has participated over 33 years in almost 250 exhibitions, including the Biennials of São Paulo, Mercosul and Havana. In the photo, Rufino performs the work “Opera Hominum” (2016) which consisted of engravings of the hands of workers on the payroll of the Plant itself. In addition to “Opera Hominum”, the installation “Ligas” is displayed in the former hangar of the plant and is currently available to the public.   

2. Brennand Workshop 

Francisco Brennand, ceramist and artist. Photo: Tiago Queiroz.

One of the most notable potters in Brazil, Francisco Brennand learned to work with the material that made him famous when he was still a teenager, at Cerâmica São João – the old brick and tile factory inherited from his father. It was there that he understood what his life goal would be: to be an artist. From 1971, he transformed the space into the Brennand workshop with the objective of preserving the legacy of art in the Recife region, but shortly afterwards the Workshop became an Institute and Brennand donated a collection of more than 2500 works to the State.

Facade of the Francisco Brennand Institute, Pernambuco.

Today, Oficina Brennand counts on the donation of the works, the area of the environmental reserve and the Imaculada Conceição Chapel, built from the ruins of a 19th century colonial house and dedicated to the Imaculada Conceição and with a project signed by Paulo Mendes da Rocha and Eduardo Colonelli.  

In addition, in November last year, the Gomide&Co gallery celebrated the representation of Brennand's works in commemoration of the artist's 50th anniversary and presented two exhibitions to the public – “Francisco Brennand: A Primitive Among the Moderns" and "Return the land to the stone it was“. 

Oficina Brennand is located in the Várzea neighborhood, in the West Zone of Recife

So, if you are planning a trip to Pernambuco, be sure to visit the Brennand Workshop and discover the collection of ceramic sculptures, murals, drawings, paintings and textile works that the space offers. 

3. FAME Museum 

Image: Reproduction Pinterest

Formerly known as Fábrica São Pedro, the FAMA Museum has more than 25,000 m² and is located in the historic center of Itu. With a rich collection focused on Brazilian art, the building was built in the mid-1900s and housed a textile factory, Fábrica São Pedro, for many years. In 2018, however, the space was acquired by artist and collector Marcos Amaro.

Fixed collection on display at the FAMA Museum.

The museum offers a collection of works ranging from paintings and photographs to contemporary installations in this space that integrates nature, botany and art so well. The exhibition rooms are located in former industrial warehouses so that not only art lovers, but also architecture lovers can enjoy the industrial-contemporary setting.

4. Felícia Leirner Museum 

Named after the plastic artist Felícia Leirner, the museum is located in Campos de Jordão and has more than 80 sculptures spread across the grandiose garden of 35,000 m².

The museum is located on Av. doctor Luis Arrobas Martins, in Campos do Jordao.

The works, made in materials such as bronze, white cement and granite, are constantly being restored and were distributed through stages determined by the artist, such as “Abstract”, “On the Way to Abstraction”, “figurative” and more. In addition to the path that integrates nature and art in the same measure, the museum is an environmental heritage that is worth visiting. 

5. Inhotim 

Lucia Koch, PROPAGANDA, 2021. Photo: Ana Luiza Albuquerque.

If you thought Inhotim wouldn't be on this list, don't despair – there is no doubt that Inhotim is Minas Gerais and Brazil's benchmark for open-air museums. After all, the search for culture and art led us to 20 km² of land and, mainly, the 970,000 m² of visitation area that includes gardens, buildings, galleries, lakes and hundreds of works of art that reserve unforgettable immersive experiences for visitors. 

Inhotim brings together the largest collection of live palm trees in Brazil. Image: reproduction.

In fact, the extension and natural richness of the museum is so relevant that it was considered a true botanical collection by the authorities to have it reserved as such. To be more precise, in 2010 the institute was named Botanical Garden and since then has been part of the RNJB (Brazilian Botanical Gardens Network) because it has about 181 botanical families, more than 900 genera and just over 4,200 species, of which interestingly, 1,400 of palm trees alone – the largest collection of living plant species in Brazil. 

This year the museum inaugurated a sequence of exhibitions under the theme Specific Territory, in addition to promoting a series of exhibitions and actions around the work of the poet, playwright and activist, Abdias Nascimento. Also, this November, the Institute will inaugurate the exhibitions “Quilombo: life, problems and aspirations of the black" and "The World is the Theater of Man”, so here’s a tip for you to organize yourself to visit the museum and take advantage of the opening of a new exhibition. 

Abdias Nascimento, Xangô Rodrigues Alves, 1970, acrylic on linen. Photo: Ana Luiza Albuquerque

6. Serrinha Art Natural Park 

Panoramic view of the Arte Serrinha Natural Park. Image: official website.

Located in Bragança Paulista, in the Serrinha neighborhood, the Arte Serrinha Natural Park is located at the beginning of the Serra da Mantiqueira and is an area of Fazenda Serrinha that was recently recognized as a private ecological reserve. 

The extension of the farm ensures that its visitors enjoy a privileged view of the lookout, the dam and the landscape of the region, in addition to discovering the space that houses sculptures and installations of Land Art:

In this case, the installations were built specifically for the spaces they occupy and guarantee visitors an interaction between environment, earth and the expansion of aesthetic perception.

Installations like “Terzo Paradiso”, by Michelangelo Pistoletto or “How the Water Goes”, a playful work by the artist Stela Barbieri, are examples of this artistic-political aspect that involves the entire extension of this open-air museum. In addition, another way to get to know the park is by going to the Arte Serrinha Festival, which takes place every year in July and guarantees visitors an immersive experience in art, music, gastronomy and sustainability. 

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