Museum of Afro-Brazilian History and Culture opens in the port area of ​​Rio de Janeiro

Created in 2017, without ever having been open to the public, the Museum of Afro-Brazilian History and Culture (Muhcab) opened last Tuesday (23).

Next to Cais do Valongo, in Gamboa, the space is located in the building of the José Bonifácio Cultural Center and is one of the 15 points of memory that make up Little Africa, in the Port Region of Rio de Janeiro.

At the time of its creation, the Muhcab was designed to be an arm of the interpretation center that will still be created to catalog the archaeological collection found in that region.

It was defined as a hybrid museum: territory museum, open air museum, social responsibility museum and historical museum. The region has a fundamental role in the rescue, preservation and revitalization of Afro-Brazilian memory.

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From now on, the public can check out some of the works in the collection, which holds approximately 2,500 items, including paintings, sculptures and photographs, as well as works by contemporary plastic artists, who dialogue with the space.

As a territory museum, buildings and urban elements are also cataloged as collections.

Among the works are highlighted in the exhibition Prominence: memory, pride and identity, which marks the resumption, are charred tree, by Nelson Sergeant; and samba dancers, by Heitor dos Prazeres, as well as another one created especially for the new space (untitled), by Artedeft, an artist who uses painting and digital collage to expose urban and peripheral reality.

The José Bonifácio Cultural Center was restored in 2013 by the City of Rio. Founded in 1877 by Dom Pedro II as the first public school in Latin America, the palace is part of the Historical and Archaeological Circuit for the Celebration of African Heritage.


In the first room, named Conceição Evaristo, a gigantic map on the wall shows the routes of the slave trade from Africa to Brazil. The highlight there, however, is the installation weaving roots, a circle with African fabrics to tell the origins of ancestral peoples.

Then, in the Agnaldo Camargo room, a series of plants for healing purposes, each one related to an orixá, as well as clay sculptures of the same orixás, made by Carmem Barros.

In the Grande Otelo room, texts and photos on themes such as the myth of racial democracy, dictatorship and resistance. The highlights are three canvases by Nelson Sargento, the bastion of Estação Primeira de Mangueira, and also a photographic collection with images of actress Ruth de Souza and the Teatro Experimental do Negro (TEN).

The Educational room is named after Mestre Marçal and will have activities for children and teenagers. Finally, the Abdias do Nascimento room brings a timeline and videos with the history of Muhcab and an interactive work where the visitor steps in the territory known as Little Africa.

In the auditorium, the idea is to promote meetings, lectures, seminars and debates. The patio will be the stage for samba, jongo and other rhythms, as well as a meeting point, with appetizers inspired by Afro cuisine.

The Museum of Afro-Brazilian History and Culture is located at Rua Pedro Ernesto 80, in Gamboa, and is open from Thursday to Saturday, from 10 am to 4 pm. Admission is free.

Discover the 15 Points of Little Africa

Valongo Wharf, World Heritage
Valongo slave market
Pretos Novos Cemetery – Instituto dos Pretos Novos (IPN)
Muhcab (former José Bonifácio School)
Praça da Harmonia – interprets the Barricades of the Vaccine Revolt
Black trade unions and associations – Trapiche and Café Workers Resistance Society
Machado de Assis’ house
Little Africa Lookout
Warehouse Square/Stevedores Square
Trapiches and port activities on Rua da Saúde
Pedra do Sal, Quilombo da Pedra do Sal and Rua São Francisco da Prainha
Zungu Largo de São Francisco da Prainha
São Francisco da Prainha Church
Mauá Square
St. Rita Church

Source: BoF Rio de Janeiro

Edition: Eduardo Miranda


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