Palácio da Liberdade (Liberty Palace), a former seat of government and one of the attractions in Belo Horizonte's Praça da Liberdade Cultural Circuit, is now a museum.
The 30-room palace, which was closed for 12 months, has been fully restored and equipped with updated interactive technology for a sweeping view of a century of Minas Gerais history, the result of a project under the supervision of Brazilian curator Marcello Dantas.
Research for "Palácio da Liberdade – Memórias e Histórias" ("Liberty Palace - Memories and Stories") was done by historian Maria Eliza Linhares Borges, from Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais (UFMG), and the iconography by Vanessa Viegas and Solange Santos. The R$ 850,000 investment in the museography alone came from a partnership with the Minas Gerais Industry Federation (Fiemg) and the Social Industry Service (SESI).
Planned to be the seat of Minas Gerais State government and a governors' residence, the 1897 palace in Eclectic style has notable Neoclassical architectural features and beautiful design details such as the floral motifs in its Art Nouveau staircase or the original Louis XV furniture in its Golden Room.
Other outstanding rooms are the Portrait Room, in which all governors and presidents of Minas Gerais since the state capital was in Ouro Preto are represented, and the Banquet Room.
In the new museum, the project by Marcello Dantas subtly intervened in the intensely decorated spaces so that technology blends seamlessly into the whole. Objects such as mirrors, photo frames and telephones are the media for videos, audio files in which actors impersonate historical figures, and animations which relate - in Portuguese - key moments of the state's history (inquire about guided visits in English).
When visitors pick up the receiver in a telephone in the Audience Room, they can hear the reenactment of a conversation between former Brazil president Juscelino Kubitscheck and architect Oscar Niemeyer, in which Kubitscheck, still as governor of Minas Gerais (1951-1955), tells the architect he wants a construction at the foot of the Curral Mountain Range to be renovated and turned into the official governor's residence.
In another room, Magalhães Pinto, governor from 1961 to 1966, appears in a wardrobe and expresses his support for Brazil's 1964 military coup d'état. "Each room you enter has a surprise," said Dantas in an interview to the official Minas Gerais press.
Circuito Cultural Praça da Liberdade
Until 2014, the Liberty Square Cultural Circuit (Circuito Cultural Praça da Liberdade) will comprise 12 cultural venues. Considered the largest integrated cultural route in Brazil, the Circuit includes the Museum of Mines and Metal, the
Liberty Palace Hours:
Sat, Sun and holidays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Address & Contact Information:Praça da Liberdade, 1
Belo Horizonte - MG