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Museu Paulista - A Monument to Brazil's Independence


Museu Paulista (Museu do Ipiranga) Overview:

Museu Paulista, also known as Museu do Ipiranga, in São Paulo, was built between 1885 and 1890 as a monument to the proclamation of Brazil's independence from Portugal on September 7, 1822 by prince regent Pedro, who became Dom Pedro I, the first emperor of the new nation.

With its historic building, a collection spanning four centuries of Brazilian history, gardens inspired in Versailles, and a park, Museu Paulista is one of Brazil's best loved museums and a top São Paulo attraction.

The Building:

A few months after Dom Pedro I shouted the motto Independência ou Morte! - Independence or Death - by the Ipiranga Creek, the first proposals came up for the construction of a monument to Brazil's independence in the exact area where it all happened.

Due to a lack of funds and disagreements about the kind of monument to be built, nearly seven decades went by before the project got under way.

In 1884, Italian architect Tommaso Gaudenzio Bezzi was hired, having presented plans for a building-monument in the eclectic style, inspired in Renaissance palaces.

The dimensions and architectural style of the palace were exceptional for late nineteenth-century São Paulo, which still had no more than 70,000 inhabitants. With 24 columns in the main entry, an impressive staircase and landing, a noble room and elaborate ornaments, the building probably demanded Italian immigrant labor, since local workers didn't have access to that kind of expertise.

Construction also differed from taipa de pilão and taipa de mão, the pressed mud techniques used at the time. Bricks were brought from a nearby factory by train, and a station had to be built for that purpose.

The Collection:

Museu Paulista, a part of with Universidade de São Paulo, features over 125,000 items, including paintings, sculptures, photographs, maps, clothing, objects and archives.

Among the most valuable collections are originals which belonged to Alberto Santos Dumont, thousands of amateur photos which help document family life in São Paulo, and printed material related to the Constitutionalist Revolution of 1932, a key event in São Paulo and Brazil history.

Some outstanding works visitors will see at Museu Paulista are in the main entry - statues of bandeirantes Antônio Raposo Tavares and Fernão Dias Paes by Luigi Brizzollara. A bronze statue of Dom Pedro I by Rodolpho Bernardelli is in the central stairway niche.

Don't miss the Domenico Failutti portrait of Maria Quitéria, a heroic woman who fought for Brazilian independence disguised as a man.

Independência ou Morte by Pedro Américo:

The most famous painting at Museu Paulista is certainly "Independência ou Morte", by Pedro Américo (1843-1905), also known as "O Grito do Ipiranga" (The Ipiranga Shout).

Commissioned during the construction of the monument to Independence, the painting was concluded in 1888, when the Brazilian monarchy faced a crisis - the country would become a republic the following year.

An article by Raul V. Martinez published in Constelar points out how historic fact was altered for the sake of aesthetics and a more heroic rendering of the moment.

On September 7, 1822, Dom Pedro I - one of the Brazil's ten national heroes honoured at the Nation's Pantheon in Brasília was a tired man who had just completed the steep 11-hour ascent from Santos, most probably on a mule, and not a horse. So had everyone in his entourage - that's how you traversed Serra do Mar (The Sea Mountain Range) in those days.

In his attempt to invest the Shout with more significance than it already had, Pedro Américo apparently got too much inspiration from "1807, Friedland", by Ernest Meissonier which shows a victorious Napoleon at the battle by the same name.

The Raul V. Martinez article for Constelar has a link to both works, juxtaposed. To find the link, scroll down the article page till you see "Compare os dois quadros e tire suas próprias conclusões!" (Compare and draw your own conclusions) highlighted in yellow.

Five years later, Pedro Américo would depict another national hero - Tiradentes - in a manner Brazilian historian Maraliz de Castro Vieira Christo, author of a thesis about the painting, has described as unique in Brazilian and western art.

"Tiradentes Esquartejado" shows the hero's quartered body following his execution in 1792, in a graphic portrayal of the desecration which, instead of discouraging further attempts at independence, fueled the libertarian ideals culminating in the Sete de Setembro. The painting is part of the collection at Museu Mariano Procópio (Mapro), in Juiz de Fora, Minas Gerais.

Museu Paulista Gardens:

The original gardens were designed by Belgian landscape artist Arsenius Puttemans, inspired by Versailles Gardens. Topiaries, rose bushes, water fountains and arabesques on the pavement create an orderly atmosphere in front of the museum.

Independence Park:

In São Paulo, when someone says they're going to Museu do Ipiranga, they may be talking about the whole complex which is officially called Parque da Independência, or Independence Park, and includes the museum and its grounds. There's no charge to visit the park with mature native trees behind the museum, a popular weekend retreat.

Although Museu Paulista is a building-monument, the Monumento à Independência, opened during the first Independence centennial in 1922, is a separate structure at the park.

Designed by Italian Ettore Ximenes, it lacked elements pertinent to the Proclamation of Independence and was complemented by panels and bronze figures representing the Pernambuco Revolution of 1817, the Minas Gerais Conspiracy, Independence Patriarch José Bonifácio de Andrada e Silva and other relevant heroes.

In 1952, the Nation's Pyre and a chapel which holds the mortal remains of Dom Pedro I and his wife, Empress Leopoldian, were added to the monument.

Casa do Grito, on the museum grounds, though similar to a house depicted in Pedro Américo's rendition of The Shout, only has documented history dating back as far as 1884, and not to the Proclamation of Independence. But it's a rare example of a modest nineteenth-century São Paulo construction in pau-a-pique.

Another attraction near Museu Paulista is the Museum of Zoology.


Tues-Sun, 9 a.m. -5 p.m
Closed on Jan.1, Good Friday, Nov.2, Dec. 24, 25 and 31.


R$ 4 (about $2.40)
Free for children under 6 and seniors over 60
Free admission on the first and third Sunday of each month

Museu Paulista Address:

Parque da Independência
São Paulo - SP
Phone: 55-11-2065-8000
FAX: 55-11-2065-8051/2065-8054
Website: www.usp.br
E-mail: mp@edu.usp.br


Take a bus from the Vila Mariana subway station.

The Alto do Ipiranga subway station, on São Paulo Metrô's green line, is not near the museum.

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