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Imperial Museum in Petrópolis, Brazil

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Museu Imperial
Imperial Museum in Petrópolis, Brazil
Rodrigo Azevedo

Updated on Dec.28, 2011.

The Imperial Museum in Petrópolis is one of the most attractive cultural points of interest near Rio de Janeiro. Located in the town's historic center, the museum was once Emperor Pedro II's favorite residence.

The museum's appeal can be attributed to the palace itself, the furniture and art objects which belonged to the emperor's family, including the Imperial Crown and jewels, and the archives consisting of 250,000 original documents ranging from the 13th to the early 20th century.

The Palace

Built between 1845-1862 to be a summer residence, the palace is considered the origin of the city named for the emperor and his father, Pedro I. Brazil's first emperor had been charmed by the region in 1822, not long before he proclaimed Brazil independent. In 1830, he bought the farm where the palace was built.

The palace was designed by German engineer and Brazilian Army Major Júlio Frederico Koeler and followed through by architects Joaquim Cândido Guilhobel and José Maria Jacinto Rebelo after his death. Some of the outstanding features of the neoclassical building are the vestibule floor in Carrara marble and black marble from Belgium, floors and door frames made of noble woods such as jacaranda and rosewood.

The gardens were designed by Jean Baptiste Binot, under the emperor's personal guidance, with native plants, some of them rare.

The Collection

After Brazil became a republic in 1889, the palace was leased to Colégio Notre Dame de Sion (1892-1908) and to Colégio São Vicente de Paula (1909-1940). A former Colégio São Vicente de Paula student, Alcindo de Azevedo Sodré, dreamed of turning the palace into a museum and it was thanks to his work and influence that Presidente Getúlio Vargas created the museum by decree in 1940. The museum was opened on March 16, 1943.

The Imperial Museum is decorated with furniture which was used by the imperial family in Petropolis or in Rio de Janeiro. The mahogany table and chairs by F. Léger Jeanselme Père & Fils in the dining room and the jacaranda bed in Portuguese rococo used by Princess Leopoldina, one of the emperor's daughters, are examples of historic pieces on display.

The most valuable item in the museum, however, is Emperor Pedro II's crown, made to order for the young monarch - coronated at the age of 15 - by Rio de Janeiro artist Carlos Marin. The crown has been in the museum since 1943.

Other treasures from the Imperial family housed at the museum are Pedro II's scepter and jewels worn by his wife, Empress Leopoldina.

Sound & Light Show

Every week, the museum hosts a 45-minute sound and light show which reenacts moments of Emperor Pedro II's reign.

A soundtrack narrated (in Portuguese) by famous Brazilian actor Paulo Autran highlights moments such as a gala ball when sisters Princesses Isabel and Leopoldina met their future husbands. The museum is lighted as if for the gala and, on a water curtain, movie scenes depicting gala scenes are shown.

Hours: Thur-Sat at 8 p.m.
Tickets: R$20 (check daily dollar-real exchange rates). It is recommended that you purchase tickets in advance (at the museum's ticket office).

Bistro

The Imperial Museum has the Bistro Imperatriz serving varied food and wine.

Museum Hours:

Tue-Sun 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Address & Contact Information:

Rua da Imperatriz 220
Centro
Petrópolis - RJ
Phone: 55-24-2245-5550
E-mail: faleconosco@museuimperial.gov.br
Website: www.museuimperial.gov.br

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