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Museum of the Republic


Top Cultural Attractions in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Museum of the Republic
Photo courtesy of IBRAM.

Nov.15, 2012

The Museum of the Republic in Rio de Janeiro, housed at the 1851 Palácio do Catete, affords visitors a panorama of Brazil's Republican history and culture through works of art, furniture, objects, documents and temporary exhibitions, as well as the palace itself.

Palácio do Catete, built by the Baron of Nova Friburgo to be his home, was acquired by the federal government in 1896 and renovated to become the official residence and workplace of Brazil presidents. As such, it was inaugurated on Feb.24, 1897. Before that, the seat of the Executive power was the Itamaraty Palace (Av. Marechal Floriano 19, in Centro), today the Rio de Janeiro Representation Office for the Ministry of External Relations.

In 1960, soon after Brasília became the country's capital, the palace which had been home to 18 presidents became the site of the Museum of the Republic. The museum was officially inaugurated by President Juscelino Kubitschek on Nov. 15, 1960, the 71st anniversary of the Proclamation of Republic in Brazil.

The palace in Neoclassical style is surrounded by large gardens, in all likelihood designed by French landscape artist Auguste Marie Françoise Glaziou and redesigned over time - the first major intervention was in charge of Paul Villon, who studied under Glaziou, as part of the renovations for governmental use. A gallery by the lake - Galeria do Lago - hosts art exhibitions in sync with the museum's scope and themes.

Today, Museu da República is one of 30 organizations directly administered by IBRAM - the Brazilian Museum Institute. Its temporary exhibits allow visitors to further explore the complexities of the Brazilian Republic from its onset until today. Other events include delightful evening serestas - live musical performances in the garden. Keep up with the latest under "Agenda" on the museum website.

Palácio do Catete:

A tour of the museum explores the palace's functions both as the home of one of the richest coffee magnates in 19th-century Brazil and as the site of the Executive power, with the suicide of President Getúlio Vargas in his room on the third floor on Aug.24, 1954 as the ultimate dramatic event in its history.

Among the changes made to adapt the palace to its governmental use is the introduction of elements depicting Brazil's National Arms or historic dates on ceilings and doors.

Initially known as Palácio de Nova Friburgo, the construction was designed by Prussian architect Carl Friedrich Gustav Waehneldt (1830-1873). Entrance is through an iron gate made in Ilsenburg, in the German district of Harz. On the ground floor, the original living areas later adapted for various governmental purposes now house long- and short-term exhibitions.

In the presidential years, a room on this floor originally used for small receptions became the Ministerial Room (Salão Ministerial). Though some changes were introduced, the ceiling's original frescoes, depicting Bacchus and Ariadne, have been preserved through the building's history.

The second floor, used for receptions and ceremonies, has several strikingly decorated rooms - Pompeii, Venetian, Noble, French and Moorish - as well as a chapel, and architecture and design are allowed to shine.

On the third floor, besides the presidential room, a 266-piece skylight and a gallery are the major attractions.

Library and Archives:

Open to graduate students and researchers (with free access for one hour), the museum's library is open Mon-Fri noon to 5 p.m.

The Historical Archives can be consulted from Monday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., as long as the visit is scheduled in advance (call 55-21-3235-5360).

Museum Hours:

Tue-Fri 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Sat, Sun and holidays noon to 6 p.m.


R$6 (free on Wednesdays and Sundays). Check the museum website for updates.

Address & Contact Information:

Rua do Catete 153
Rio de Janeiro – RJ
Phone: 55-21-3235-3693

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