Rio somos nós! The Community Museums of Rio de Janeiro

A journey around the world in the 21st century. Discover decoloniality and the community museums of Rio de Janeiro.

By Museo Nacional de Antropología, Madrid

Museo Nacional de Antropología

It is 500 years since the first circumnavigation of the world (1519–22)....

At the National Museum of Anthropology, we took that as the perfect excuse to get a feel for the social and cultural panorama of our planet, with all its inequities, conflicts, challenges, and opportunities for the future. We listened to the voices of the people and communities living in the places reached by that expedition.

Logo of the cycle "Let's Turn Around the World" (2019) by Laura LimónOriginal Source: Museo Nacional de Antropología

We have launched the Let's Take a Trip around the World (Démosle la Vuelta al Mundo) series. This will consist of at least seven exhibitions or consecutive stops through the three years of the fifth centenary. The first stop will be located where Magellan's expedition began in America toward the end of 1519.

Museo Nacional de Antropología (2020) by Javier Rodríguez BarreraOriginal Source: Museo Nacional de Antropología

Guanabara Bay - Rio de Janeiro

Specifically Guanabara Bay, where some decades later the Portuguese founded the city of Rio de Janeiro. Back then, Guanabara Bay was populated by the Tupinambá people. The area has changed significantly as a result of the historical processes driven by European imperialism—set in motion, of course, by the expedition. It is now a fascinating, multicultural metropolis.

"Río somos nós!" exhibition view (2020) by Jara García AzorOriginal Source: Museo Nacional de Antropología

Rio de Janeiro is famous for its exuberant carnival and impressive tourist veneer, but also for the extensive, chaotic slums hidden behind it, stigmatized as dangerous, troubled areas.

"Río somos nós!" exhibition view (2020) by Jara García AzorOriginal Source: Museo Nacional de Antropología

This exhibition will reveal that within these slums lies a creative spirit of identity and activism, which has led to the opening of some very unique museums. These museums are breaking the mold and are a model of social engagement: the community museums of Rio de Janeiro.

From this point on, the texts are written in the first person, by professionals from the museums explaining their history and objectives.

Map of Rio de Janeiro (2019) by Lara Carolina Izquierdo PereiraOriginal Source: Museo Nacional de Antropología

The community museums of Rio de Janeiro

Map of Rio de Janeiro showing the location of the community museums.

Museu das Remoções

Vila Autódromo
"Memória não se remove!"

Demolition of Sandra Regina Damião's house (2016) by Luiz Claudio SilvaOriginal Source: Museu das Remoções

The Museu das Remoções is an open-air community museum located in Vila Autódromo.

We began in 2016 as part of the resistance against the urban politics of the Olympics, which were held in Rio that year. The museum aims to raise awareness of the story of Vila Autódromo to inspire other communities to fight against displacement.

Those of us living in the neighborhood conduct guided tours along a route marked with 22 points of memory—significant places in our story—denoted by sculptures made from the rubble left behind after the demolitions.

Map of Rio de Janeiro (2019) by Lara Carolina Izquierdo PereiraOriginal Source: Museo Nacional de Antropología

Ecomuseu de Sepetiba

Sepetiba neighborhood
"Nosso museu é lugar de memória viva!"

Little paradise (2017) by Glauco VitalOriginal Source: Ecomuseu de Sepetiba

The Ecomuseu de Sepetiba began in 2008 as an expression of a movement started by the residents of the Sepetiba neighborhood. We were passionate about our local memory and history, and wanted to ensure our community was valued.

Our aim is to research, preserve, decode, appreciate, and share the testimonies of the community and their environment. We work to construct and relay collective memory and sustainable, comprehensive, local development.

Map of Rio de Janeiro (2019) by Lara Carolina Izquierdo PereiraOriginal Source: Museo Nacional de Antropología

Museu Sankofa Memória e História da Rocinha

Rocinha slum
"Devemos olhar para trás e recuperar nosso pasado!"

Fight of the Rocinha favela (1977-1978) by Thiery LinardOriginal Source: Museu Sankofa Memória e História da Rocinha

The Museu Sankofa Memória e História da Rocinha is a means to exercise citizens' rights through education and social museum curation. It recognizes, rescues, protects, appreciates, and values our natural, historical, cultural, material, and immaterial heritage.

We protect the memory and the rights of those living in the Rocinha slum.

Map of Rio de Janeiro (2019) by Lara Carolina Izquierdo PereiraOriginal Source: Museo Nacional de Antropología

Museu Casa Bumba Meu Boi em Movimento Raízes de Gericinó

Vila Catiri
"Memória e saber fazer do nordeste do Brasil!"

"Vaqueiro" vest ("colete") and hat ("chapéu") (2020) by Javier Rodríguez BarreraOriginal Source: Museo Nacional de Antropología

From the Museu Casa do Bumba Meu Boi em Movimento Raízes de Gericinó, we want to contribute to the social transformation in Vila Catiri through education, art, and popular culture. This concept is embodied in Bumba Meu Boi, a theatrical show from northeast Brazil involving music and dancing, with various characters, including an ox that dies and then comes back to life.

Map of Rio de Janeiro (2019) by Lara Carolina Izquierdo PereiraOriginal Source: Museo Nacional de Antropología

Museu de Favela

Cantagalo hill
"Moramos dentro de um museu!"

Access gate to the circuit "Houses-Cloth. Life paths of the Museu de Favela" (2009-2019)Original Source: Museu de Favela

The Museu de Favela is a community NGO established by residents of the Pavão, Pavãozinho, and Cantagalo slums. We opened the museum in February 2009 with a large community cultural event. Since then, the populations of the slums have existed within the museum. It was the first museum to be opened inside a slum!

Slums are no longer invisible; we exist, and we are going to show the world the cultural wealth we have to offer. The museum offers two tourist routes: the "Casas-Tela" circuit, an open-air gallery including graffiti by Acme and other urban artists; and "EcoTrilha Caminho do Alto," an ecological circuit.

Map of Rio de Janeiro (2019) by Lara Carolina Izquierdo PereiraOriginal Source: Museo Nacional de Antropología

Museu Memórias do Cerro Corá

Cerro Corá slum
"Moradores em movimento!"

Urban art in Cerro Corá (2013-2019)Original Source: Museu Memórias do Cerro Corá

The Museu Memórias do Cerro Corá started out in 2013 as a project to collect old photographs of the Cerro Corá slum.

Our mission is to preserve and raise awareness of the knowledge, traditions, and history of our community and its surroundings. We also promote local culture and connections between residents and their life stories through social participation projects. We raise awareness among the residents of their importance within Brazilian society, and specifically in Rio.

Map of Rio de Janeiro (2019) by Lara Carolina Izquierdo PereiraOriginal Source: Museo Nacional de Antropología

Museu da Maré

Maré neighborhood
"Um museu na favela!"

Permanent exhibition of the Museu da Maré (2006-2019)Original Source: Museu da Maré

Founded on May 8, 2006, the Museu da Maré was born from a desire of the residents of the Maré neighborhood to preserve our memories and life stories. Our mission is to overcome the stigmas associated with the slums of Rio.

The museum is not a place to store objects, or hark back to the past, but rather a space for life, dreams, conflicts, and participation. It is a place that allows us to look to the future, while referencing struggles, resistance, and popular triumphs as inspiration.

Map of Rio de Janeiro (2019) by Lara Carolina Izquierdo PereiraOriginal Source: Museo Nacional de Antropología

Museu Vivo do São Bento

Neighborhood of São Bento, Duque de Caxias
"Em defesa do patrimônio do município de Duque de Caxias!"

House of the Hacienda São Bento do Iguaçu (2018) by Filipo TardimOriginal Source: Museu Vivo do São Bento

The Museu Vivo do São Bento was founded in 2008. It is an ecomuseum, located in the neighborhood of São Bento in the city of Duque de Caxias, in the state of Rio de Janeiro.

It started with the recognition of syndicates of education professionals and locals passionate about the cultural heritage of our region.

We are a territorial museum, and we manage various historical sites, such as the archeological site of Sambaqui and the Hacienda of São Bento do Iguaçu.

Logo of the cycle "Let's Turn Around the World" (2019) by Laura LimónOriginal Source: Museo Nacional de Antropología

Do you want to know the other stops of the cycle?

The Let's turn around the world cycle is made up of the following exhibitions:

1. Rio somos nós!
2. Strait of Magellan: The Water Border
3. BIBA CHAMORU: Culture and identity in Mariana Islands

Credits: Story

Organized by: Rede de Museologia Social do Rio de Janeiro and Museo Nacional de Antropología (Ministerio de Cultura y Deporte de España).

Participating museums: Ecomuseu de Sepetiba, Museu Memórias do Cerro Corá, Museu Casa do Bumba Meu Boi em Movimento Raízes de Gericinó, Museu de Favela, Museu da Maré, Museu das Remoções, Museu Sankofa Memória e História da Rocinha, and Museu Vivo do São Bento.

Collective commission, production, selection, and management of images and objects, writing and translation of texts, and project coordination: REMUS-RJ: Alana Mendonça, Alejandra Saladino, Daniela Matera, Rondelly Cavulla, Gabriel Campos Hubner, and Mário Chagas (coordinator).

National Museum of Anthropology: Patricia Alonso, Pablo Jiménez, Belén Soguero, Cristina Guerrero, and Maribel Lemos.

Design, production, and installation: SIT Spain.

This exhibition is part of the First Voyage Around the World project.

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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