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Casa da Imagem

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Historical Building in São Paulo Houses Photography Archives, Exhibits
Casa da Imagem
Patricia Ribeiro

Updated on Sep.20, 2012

The building is known as Casa Número 1. But the property in central São Paulo inaugurated in November 2011 after a R$4 million restoration is now Casa da Imagem, a venue for exhibits and the new home of the city's photography archives, with over 700,000 images.

The new venue, which aims to promote the photography collection, stimulate research and the development of new projects in iconographic documentation, is part of the São Paulo City Museum (Museu da Cidade), a network of historical sites dating from the 17th to the 20th century which represent the city's rural and urban occupation.

About 130,000 images have been digitalized and made available to the general public in a research room (Sala de Consulta).

The origins of the city's photography collection can be attributed to writer Mário de Andrade, who, in the 1930s, was responsible for the creation of the city's Cultural Department. The first major acquisition of images was a collection by pioneer Italian photographer Aurélio Becherini.

Casa da Imagem opened with an exhibit of works by Guilherme Gaensly (1843-1928), a master of urban photography whose work captured São Paulo as a vibrant emerging city.

An attraction with access through the building only is Beco do Pinto, an alley which was used by pedestrians and animals as a passage between Rua do Carmo (now Rua Roberto Simonsen) and the margins of the Tamanduatei River. The space can be used for installations and performances.

The alley is between Casa da Imagem and Solar da Marquesa de Santos, once the home of Emperor Pedro I's longtime mistress Domitila de Castro Canto e Melo. The mansion reopened after a three-year restoration on the same day as Casa da Imagem. Both sites and Beco do Pinto are part of Museu da Cidade.

Archaeology of the Casa da Imagem Building:

The building which houses Casa da Imagem rose where, according to a 1689 referemce, there used to be a rammed earth construction. The original structure was built over and images dating from 1889 indicate the existence of a three-story building on the spot.

The site has great importance in the study of São Paulo history; its location next to the city's birthplace - Pateo do Collegio - adds greatly to its relevance.

The first archaeological study at the site was carried out in 1980. The work coordinated by Margarida Andreatta revealed layers of household discards dating back to the 19th century.

Restoration work started in 2008 included an archaeological project under the supervision of Lúcia Juliani, with three excavation areas which revealed, among other finds, a water fountain, outdoor pavement, and a network of pipes dating back to the beginning of the 20th century, when the building housed a police station.

Read more about Household Archaeology.

Casa da Imagem Address & General Information:

Rua Roberto Simonsen 136b
Centro
São Paulo - SP
Nearest Subway Station: Sé (Blue Line)
Phone: 55-11-3106-5122
Website: www.casadaimagem.sp.gov.br
Email: casai@prefeitura.sp.gov.br
Admission: Free
Accessibility: An elevator is available. As of this writing, the wheelchair-accessible restroom is on the floor below street level. Beco do Pinto is not wheelchair-accessible.

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