The Niterói Contemporary Art Museum opened its doors to the public in 1996, after the completion of a five-year renovation work. Since then, the museum has become a major landmark of Niterói, the city of Rio de Jenerio. The Museum’s building which was built but well-known Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer is regarded as one of the world’s most renowned and iconic buildings. According to some people, this futuristic structure looks like a plate, for some others it recalls the wine glass, while others think it makes a reference to a space ship. Multiple interpretations are aside, it is certain that the museum has an extraordinary architecture, and an unusual location at the sea. Creating a dialogue between the arts and nature, Niterói ascribes the visitors a never-ending sense of lightness and freshness.
The museum’s architecture is considered as an artwork itself. As Neimeyer has once described, the building was designed as if rising from “the ground” and “continuously growing and spreading, like a flower.” Placed on top of a rocky mountain area, which looks at the Gunabama Gulf, the 50×2.000 square-meter disc standing on its foot – makes this building quite unique.
The visitors access the museum via a serpentine formed, vibrant red, 98-meter-long ramp. Once they enter into the museum, they are see a bright, 4-storey building. The ground floor houses bar, restaurant and a conference hall, the first floor has reception and administrative offices whereas the 677-squaremeter second floor features the museum’s collection. The upper floor is the place for local and international temporary art exhibitions. All of these floors are surrounded by circular viewing windows, which open up to a wonderful scenery that reflects natural light and the sea.
Another extraordinary feature of the museum is its pool which is inserted to very ground of the building. Accentuating the relationship of the building with the water, it creates a dialogue between the gigantic presence of this modernist structure and its surrounding landscape. This iconic pool is regarded as one of the most iconic symbols of modern architecture. It gives a certain ligtness to the onlooker.
The museum is home to a rich collection of approximately 2.000 artworks from Modern and Contemporary Brazilian Art. Consisting of paintings and sculptures, these works originate from private collector Joao Sattamini’s personal collection, which started in Milan in 1966 and continued to grow in Brazil in the aftermath of 1969. It features works of Brazilian masters such as Aluísio Carvão, Dionísio Del Santo and Paulo Roberto, who had become a source of inspiration and admiration for many generations. The collection displays shed light on key developments and patterns in Modern and Contemporary Brazilian Art from the 1960s to the present day. The top floor is devoted to installations and temporary displays by international artists, which bring the current international artistic approaches and trends to Brazil.
2017’s Louis Vuitton Cruise presentation has a special place in the museum’s history. The show took place in the Niterói and turned its 2.500 square-meter open area into a fashion festival. It also served as an occasion to celebrate the museum’s reopening to the public following a major renovation project. It is considered as one of the most important examples of fashion-art cooperations that have been gaining popularity in recent years. Louis Vuitton Cruise not only turned the museum’s iconic spiral staircase into a podium but also put Niterói on the radar of the world’s fashion scene.
While exhibiting invaluable pieces inside of an iconic building, the museum also allows a breath-taking panorama of the city of Rio de Jenerio. Thinking about this, it is possible to say that the museum invites the visitors to reflect upon the interplay between architecture, museum, nature and art. With its surreal building, location at the heart of the nature and unique art experience, Niterói is an unique museum. Thus, it is no surprize that everyday it continues to be recognized, discussed and become the world’s most iconic place.