Created in 1948, Museu de Arte Moderna do Rio de Janeiro (MAM Rio) occupies a singular position in Brazilian art, and not just for its importance as a cultural hub. The building it has occupied since the late 1950s, designed by Affonso Eduardo Reidy, is a landmark in Brazilian modern architecture. At the present time, it has 4,500 m² floor space exclusively for exhibitions.
Devised to interact with its surroundings – its horizontal lines contrast with the contours of the city’s hills, and the windows along the façades welcome in Burle Marx’s landscape design –, Reidy’s architecture is rational and sculpturesque at one and the same time. There is no gap between the structure and its final appearance, and its wide open spaces have a practical purpose: to give the exhibitions freedom of composition, and to attract visitors out to the gardens on the ground level.
Occupying pride of place in the vanguard of Brazilian experimentation, MAM Rio witnessed the emergence of many of the country’s art movements and launched some of its most influential artists, from Grupo Frente (1954), a group Ivan Serpa formed with his first adult art students from MAM Rio, to Neoconcretism (1959); from the printing studio (1959) to New Brazilian Objectivity (1967), and the Opinião 65 and 66 exhibitions; from the Resumo JB exhibitions (1964-1972) to the Salões de Verão [Summer Salons] (1969-1974); from the Domingos de criação [Creation Sundays] (1971) to the experimental area (1975-1976). So many events and artists have made their mark here or used it as a core reference for their creative output.
MAM Rio’s collections sum around 15,000 works, including sculptures, paintings, photographs, drawings, prints, installations, and contemporary media. Since 1993, MAM Rio has had the Gilberto Chateaubriand collection on loan – one of the most comprehensive collections of Brazilian art from the last hundred years – and since 2005 Joaquim Paiva’s collection of photographs has also been on loan to the museum. There is a permanent exhibition of works from the Gilberto Chateaubriand collection, while works from the other collections can be viewed in temporary exhibitions. MAM Rio also receives touring Brazilian exhibitions and shows from abroad, attracting new and wider audiences.
The Cinemateca holds regular screenings of its extensive film archive, as well as other films, while providing access to film library for researchers. The research and documentation area and the library offer important resources for the study of art.