Opened on March 1, 2013, the day the capital city of Rio de Janeiro celebrated its 448th anniversary, and opened to the public on the 5th, MAR - the Rio Museum of Art is a space dedicated to art and visual culture. The Museum houses exhibitions that make a transversal reading of the history of the city, of its social fabric, symbolic life, conflicts, of its contradictions, challenges, and expectations. The first delivery of Porto Maravilha, a broad revitalization project conceived for the port area and sponsored by the City, MAR is a museum with a school located next door to it, or a school with museum next to it, which has the goal of, each year, serving two thousand teachers and welcoming 200,000 visitors - including 100,000 of Rio's public school students.
"MAR is an iconic element that shows that the Port’s revitalization is a reality. The Museum will be the cultural heart of the region. Rio lacked a Museum that could coordinate major art collections for public viewing. And this democratization process gains strength with the School of Look, Rio's first public school of art. The appreciation that we currently see in the Port Area represents the possibility of not only recovering, but also getting the population living in the area involved in the revival of a central region of Rio, one that had been abandoned for a long time," says Eduardo Paes, Mayor of Rio.
Installed at Praça Mauá, MAR occupies two adjacent buildings: an older one, which is listed, was built in an eclectic style, and houses the exhibition hall; and another more recent, modernist building where the School of Look is scheduled to operate from April. The project, designed by Rio de Janeiro firm Bernardes + Jacobsen, which is headed up by Thiago Bernardes and Paulo Jacobsen, joins the two buildings with a fluid concrete cover reminiscent of a wave, and a covered ramp on which visitors reach to the exhibition spaces.
MAR covers an area of approximately 15,000 square meters and has eight large exhibition rooms - about 300 square meters of exhibition space in each -, an educational area, auditorium, library, an observatory restaurant, coffee shop, administrative areas and a technical reserve. In addition to its own collection - now being formed through acquisitions and donations - MAR also features pieces coming from some of the most important public and private collections in Brazil in order to implement its program.
MAR also has its own collection, which, although still being formed, already includes about three thousand works, among which 1,200 watercolors by Santiago Calatrava and a thousand multiple artist books. It also brings together 5,000 pieces of Rio memorabilia, historical documents, manuscripts on slavery, photographs, postcards, Brazilian Art Archives - with about 5,000 pages or documents - and more than 5,000 books that were donated to the Library. A collection highlight is the São José de Botas, one of the four Aleijadinho sculptures that have been listed individually.
MAR will have activities that involve collecting, recording, researching, preserving and returning cultural property to the community - in the form of exhibitions, catalogs, and multimedia and educational programs. A proactive space for support for education and culture, the Museum is born with a school - the School of Look - whose museological proposal is innovative: to foster the development of a benchmark educational program for actions in Brazil and abroad, combining art and education based on the curatorial program that guides the institution. Through the School of Look, MAR will operate in an integrated manner, in partnership with the City Department of Education, by providing continuing education to teachers from Rio de Janeiro municipal schools and welcoming their students.
The Museum is managed by the Odeon Institute, the social organization (SO) that won the public bid held by the City of Rio de Janeiro. In 2013, the SO will receive R$ 12 million from the City to manage the Museum (building, technical and equipment maintenance, safety, and hiring staff for the education program, among other activities). Funding to hold the exhibits that are part of the Museum's programming will be raised through the National Program for Support for Culture (PRONAC).
The construction of MAR, an initiative of the City of Rio in partnership with the Roberto Marinho Foundation, received R$79.5 million, R$65.5 million of which within the Porto Maravilha Project and the remaining R$14 million through the National Program for Support for Culture (PRONAC). The Museum is sponsored by Vale and Organizações Globo, and has support from the Government of the State of Rio de Janeiro and the Ministry of Culture, through the Federal Law for the Encouragement of Culture.