Inside the Pink Building: restoration highlights

By MM Gerdau - Museu das Minas e do Metal

MM Gerdau - Museu das Minas e do Metal

The Pink Building, inaugurated together with the capital Belo Horizonte, in 1897, was completely restored and suitable to receive the MM Gerdau - Mines and Metal Museum, since 2010. The building has already housed the Interior and Education Secretary throughout the century. The restoration found that the internal decoration followed the French taste of the time, with neoclassical vocabulary and art nouveau, which reflected the French influence on the architecture of the new capital and, more broadly, the valorization of a European style, quite widespread, accepted and valued at the time. The original paintings of the Pink Building are by Frederico Steckel. Through this exhibition, you will be able to know the symbolisms behind the internal decoration, the iconography and the internal details of this historic building and heritage of Minas Gerais.  

Main hall and columns of the Pink Building, Jomar Bragança, Century 21th, From the collection of: MM Gerdau - Museu das Minas e do Metal
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The French neoclassical architecture style dominates the imposing interior decoration and reveals not only the European references in the construction of the New Capital, but also the aspirations of power on the agenda.

Main hall of the Pink Building, Eduardo Francischelli, Century 21th, From the collection of: MM Gerdau - Museu das Minas e do Metal
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The structural and decorative elements of wrought iron, imported from Belgium and Germany and largely engaged in the eclectic buildings, represent the Art Nouveau architectural style.

Referring to Byzantine mosaics, hydraulic tiles were widely used in eclectic buildings. In Brazil, its use is strongly influenced by the Portuguese colonization, and predates eclecticism.

Main hall of the Pink Building by Raquel EsperMM Gerdau - Museu das Minas e do Metal

After the Industrial Revolution, cast iron started to be used extensively. In addition to decorative changes, the development of technology has enabled structural revolutions in buildings.

Wrought iron structure by Eduardo FrancischelliMM Gerdau - Museu das Minas e do Metal

Main gate of the Pink Building
In the African continent, several people have mastered metallurgical techniques related to iron and gold for millennia, among them the Akan, Ashanti, Fante and Nzema, from the current region of Ghana and Côte d'Ivoire, in West Africa. Among tools, artifacts, ornaments and sculptures produced within the use of metals, there is the representation of the ideogram Sankofa, which belongs to a set of graphic symbols Adinkra, originally from the Akan ethnicity.With countless meanings, ideograms express philosophical concepts that portray cultures, customs and perceptions of the world. Such symbols are reproduced on different objects: sculptures used as counterweights in commercial scales; amulets; fabric prints; fences of portals, gates and windows; jewelry and other ornaments. In Brazil, these techniques and cultural elements were disseminated by enslaved people, brought from the African regions mentioned. Their representation of Sankofa, in the Brazilian territory, can be understood as a form of resistance, due to the context of violence to which they were subjected. There is no written expression that translates its exact meaning, yet this ideogram represents the importance of returning to the past to reframe the present and build the future.

Among its ornaments, the main doors contain the ideograms of Minas Gerais State, as well as Sankofas, which, from African origins, means “it is never too late to go back and catch what was left behind” in the Adinkra’s symbolism.

Main door in wrought iron by Raquel EsperMM Gerdau - Museu das Minas e do Metal

Staircase in cast and forged iron, Eduardo Francischelli, Century 21th, From the collection of: MM Gerdau - Museu das Minas e do Metal
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The wrought iron ornaments represent nature. Its foliage, branches, flowers and animals are characteristic of the Art Nouveau style. The ornaments also make structure seem lighter.

The structure of the monumental staircase dates back to a period of strong industrialization. Made and forged in Germany, it was assembled in the Pink Building under guidance of a technician sent to Brazil by its manufacturers.

Staircase hall by Eduardo FrancischelliMM Gerdau - Museu das Minas e do Metal

The modular elements of the staircase play a structural role. The choice for cast iron allows the construction of increased floors, increased volumes and free spans.

Structural system of the staircase by Eduardo FrancischelliMM Gerdau - Museu das Minas e do Metal

The representation of nature corresponds to the original aesthetic produced by industrial society, which dominated, incorporated and reproduced it through techniques and materials.

Ornamental rose in wrought iron by Raquel EsperMM Gerdau - Museu das Minas e do Metal

As a result of the Industrial Revolution of the 19th century, the Joly system consolidated the concepts of the industrial architecture: practicality, fastness and efficiency, increasing the speeds of construction.

Staircase hall by Eduardo FrancischelliMM Gerdau - Museu das Minas e do Metal

The geometric elements evidence the rationalist philosophy of the neoclassical period. In addition, it indicates the industrialization of construction materials.

Staircase hall by Leonardo MirandaMM Gerdau - Museu das Minas e do Metal

Staircase hall on second floor, Jomar Bragança, Century 21th, From the collection of: MM Gerdau - Museu das Minas e do Metal
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Marbling, a technique of imitating rock through painting, characteristic of the French neoclassical style, was predominant in the architecture of New Capital.

Set of neoclassical themes: arched pediment, interrupted with volutes and capitals in volutes, as well as palms and shells. Highlight for the Trompe-l'oeil technique adopted in parietal paintings.

Staircase hall by Leonardo MirandaMM Gerdau - Museu das Minas e do Metal

The Noble Hall of the Pink Building
Freemasonry is a philosophical, philanthropic and progressive movement, whose principles are based on the ideals of fraternity and equality. Its etymology comes from the French word “marçon”, and refers to the freemasons who came together to protect and share, in a fraternal group, their constructive techniques.In Brazil, Freemasonry was present in the main historical events, from the Colonial Period, to the transition from Monarchy to the Republican system. Outside the domain of the Brazilian State, power relations and political issues were decided within the masonic circles. The most outstanding politicians, artists, architects and intellectuals of the late 19th and early 20th centuries belonged to masonry bodies.Freemasonry has been perpetuated between generations, mainly through non-textual, symbolic language, based on myths, rituals and allegories from multiple cultures, such as the Greek, Egyptian, Oriental and Judeo-Christian. The architecture and decoration of buildings in the New Capital of Minas Gerais, born under the republican aegis, are full of masonry symbols and signs, revealing the memories and ideologies present in the nascent republic and in the city of Belo Horizonte.

The “Salão Nobre” (Noble Hall) designed for official ceremonies, has been restored according to its original design. Its exuberant decoration stands up for the power of the country's new political order - the Republic.

Noble hall of the Pink Building by Jomar BragançaMM Gerdau - Museu das Minas e do Metal

Noble hall ceiling, Leonardo Miranda, Century 21th, From the collection of: MM Gerdau - Museu das Minas e do Metal
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Coffered ceilings evoke the classical style, and correspond to an important construction advance: the intersecting orthogonal modules are very light, besides its structural function.

The grotesque style is inspired by the decorations and artifacts discovered in ruins buried in Rome, from the 14th century onwards. Usually, it represents mythological themes.

Ceiling with grotesque themes by Leonardo MirandaMM Gerdau - Museu das Minas e do Metal

Freemasonry played an active role in the republican movement, and the flaming star represents the individual endowed with power and intelligence.

Stencil parietal painting by Leonardo MirandaMM Gerdau - Museu das Minas e do Metal

Wall painting with Moorish theme, Jomar Bragança, Century 21th, From the collection of: MM Gerdau - Museu das Minas e do Metal
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The patterns formed by interconnected arches refer to the Moorish art style - also known as Mudejar art -, with a strong occurrence in the Iberian Peninsula between the 12th and 16th centuries.

The patterns formed by interconnected arches refer to the Moorish art style - also known as Mudejar art -, with a strong occurrence in the Iberian Peninsula between the 12th and 16th centuries.

Wall painting with Moorish theme by Leonardo MirandaMM Gerdau - Museu das Minas e do Metal

Palm ornaments are derived from the leaves of the palm trees, carved in wood or molded in ceramics in the classical architecture style. However, it is made in stucco in the Pink Building.

Crown molding with palms by Leonardo MirandaMM Gerdau - Museu das Minas e do Metal

Parietal painting with floral themes, Jomar Bragança, Century 21th, From the collection of: MM Gerdau - Museu das Minas e do Metal
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Even in working spaces, such as the office of the former State Secretariats, the decoration presents refinement and a variety of details.

From the 18th century onwards, archaeological discoveries in Pompeii brought references of grotesque themes, which went through neoclassical reinterpretations, such as the Angel of Revelation.

Roof lining, decorated with allegory of polychrome angel by Eduardo FrancischelliMM Gerdau - Museu das Minas e do Metal

From the 18th century onwards, archaeological discoveries in Pompeii brought references of grotesque themes, which went through neoclassical reinterpretations, such as the Angel of Revelation.

Roof lining, decorated with allegory of polychrome angel by Leonardo MirandaMM Gerdau - Museu das Minas e do Metal

Parquet floor detail, Leonardo Miranda, Century 21th, From the collection of: MM Gerdau - Museu das Minas e do Metal
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The marquetry floorings enhance the beauty of ancient artistic techniques, in which skillful hands weave designs within different colors and types of wood.

The stencil technique was largely used, both originally and in the restoration of the building, to reproduce patterns of parietal paintings.

Stencil parietal painting by Leonardo MirandaMM Gerdau - Museu das Minas e do Metal

Stencil parietal painting and detailed floor, Jomar Bragança, Century 21th, From the collection of: MM Gerdau - Museu das Minas e do Metal
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Old buckets and watermills donated their wood for the restoration of floorings, mostly made in dark brauna, riga pine, ipe, oak, jatoba, among others.

Inspired by the Art Nouveau style, the organic and natural forms, within sinuous and undulating lines, were widely used in the building's parietal paintings.

Parietal painting of spiral arabesque stripe by Leonardo MirandaMM Gerdau - Museu das Minas e do Metal

Wall stratigraphic prospecting windows enable to view different pictorial layers throughout the building's history.

Prospecting window by Leonardo MirandaMM Gerdau - Museu das Minas e do Metal

Credits: Story

Realization: MM Gerdau - Museum of Mines and Metal
Sponsorship: Gerdau
Support: CBMM
Direction: Márcia Guimarães
Curatorship of Geosciences: Andrea Ferreira
Museology Coordination: Carlos Jotta
Communication Coordination: Paola Oliveira
Educational Coordination: Suely Monteiro
TIC Cordination: Alexandre Livino
Curator of the "Inside the Pink Building: restoration highlights": Carlos Jotta, David Bruno, Guilherme Borges, Lucas D'Ambrósio, Luciana Miglio, Márcia Guimarães, Mateus Nogueira, Paola Oliveira and Suely Monteiro. Research and texts: David Bruno, Guilherme Borges, Suely Monteiro Translation: Lucas D'Ambrósio, Luciana Miglio and Paola Oliveira.
Photographs: Eduardo Francischelli, Jomar Bragança, Leonardo Miranda e Raquel Esper.

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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