Located in the heart of the historic center, between the Aterro do Flamengo and Santos Dumont airport, the National Historical Museum of Rio de Janeiro houses one of the most important collections in all of Brazil, with more than 287,000 pieces ranging from the time before the arrival of the Portuguese, until the beginning of the Republic.
A walk through history
The architectural complex where this important museum is located was at the beginning of the colony the Forte de Santiago (Fort of Santiago), a strategic point for the defense of the city, in addition to an important arsenal of weapons and ammunition that functioned as such until the end 19th century
The National Historical Museum was created in 1922 by President Epitácio Pessoa, as part of the International Exhibition for the Centenary of the Independence of Brazil. From that moment the museum was increasing its collection and its exhibition area until it became one of the most important in the whole country.
In chronological order, the exhibition begins with the room called “Oreretama”, which in the ancient Tupi language means “our land”, where it is possible to see some utensils used by the ancient inhabitants of the Brazilian territory and to know their beliefs and ways of life . The elaborate feather headdresses, the masks and the section where the anthropophagy habits of some native tribes are explained are striking.
A little later, the museum takes a tour of the travels of the Portuguese in its expansionist eagerness and the colonization of Brazil, to explain the social and economic organization of the colony, the sugar industry and the horrors of slavery. In this area you can see a couple of molds with which the sugar was conically shaped creating the so-called «sugar loaves». When you see them, you understand the reason for the name given to the famous Sugar Loaf hill (Morro Pão de Açúcar).
Finally, the exhibition on Imperial Brazil, once Portugal’s independence has been achieved, exhibits paintings, weapons and documents of great historical importance such as the farewell letters of Don Pedro I and Don Pedro II. The historical tour ends with the advent of the Republic.
Among the outstanding collections, the National Historical Museum of Rio de Janeiro has the largest collection of numismatics in Latin America, with nearly 3000 coins ranging from the first barter systems used by mankind, to the European unified currency (Euro). One of his most precious assets is «O Indo» (the Indian) the first silver coin created by Don Manuel I of Portugal (1495-1521) for trade with the colonies, since it is the only copy of these coins that still exists.
However, probably one of the greatest jewels of the National Historical Museum is its collection of carriages and cars. In addition to the animal-powered vehicles, among the 29 pieces that it houses, you can see some human-powered vehicles from the era of slavery and the first motor vehicles that were very popular in the cosmopolitan city of Rio de Janeiro de los First years of the 20th century.
The National Historical Museum of Rio de Janeiro is one of the largest in the city, its rooms are distributed in 9000 square meters, so to see it calmly you have to allocate at least 2 or 3 hours. In any case, it is a time that is well worth it and that will help the visitor to understand the history, culture and identity of a people as diverse and rich as the Brazilian.
The Historical Museum also has rooms for temporary exhibitions, a small shop where you can find interesting history books and an old space converted into a restaurant, The Line Bistro, which offers exquisite and elaborate dishes perfect to regain strength after the visit .
Visit the National Historical Museum
Tuesday to Friday: 10:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Saturday, Sunday and Holidays: 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.
General public: R $ 10
Over 2 to 21 years and over 60 years: R $ 5
Under 2 years: free
How to get to the National Historical Museum
Address: Praça Marechal Âncora – Near Praça XV de Novembro – Center
Telephone: (+55 21) 2550 9220