The largest contemporary art park in the world, the Inhotim Museum, is located in the middle of a lush subtropical forest. Among Latin America’s largest outdoor art centres, the Inhotim Institute is an art museum and botanical garden in Brumadunho, Brazil. Bernardo Paz founded it in 2004 to house his collection of art; however, eventually, in 2006, it was opened to the public.
The story began in the 1980s when Bernado Paz began to buy plots of land around his farmhouse to prevent developers from destroying the natural landscape. This farm was then converted into a massive botanical garden designed by landscape architect Roberto Burle Max. The idea of creating a contemporary art park was generated when Brazil’s one of the best-known contemporary artists, Tunga, encouraged Paz to collect contemporary art. After some time, this space was given by Paz to artists to create larger-than-life works.
Located amidst the rich Atlantic forests, it offers a unique, distinctive experience to visitors, blending art and nature. Around 700 works by more than 60 artists from almost 40 different countries are displayed outdoors and in the galleries while sharing the space with the botanic garden with more than 4.3 thousand rare botanic species. Today it welcomes 3,50,000 visitors per year with pavilions, artwork and plant species from around the world.
The museum is a combination of architecture and contemporary art. With the sheer persistence and perspective of various artists, architects and researchers, the project includes a botanical. Garden preserving one of the richest ecosystems. The open-air museum infuses the natural environment with built envelopes.
The museum is composed of individual platforms and pavilions instead of a single space. The site was slightly sloped and surrounded by forest. The concrete space is carved into the landscape to create a concrete space that is subterranean and bright, opening onto a glassy water feature with views of the Brazilian forest.
The park is developed in such a manner that it is always open for new and site-specific installations and solutions.
There are twenty-three pavilions designed by Brazilian architects, namely, Arquitetos Associados, Rodrigo Cerviño Lopez/Tacoa Arquitetos, and Rizoma, to house the work of varied artists. These pavilions are deprived of simple forms offering a relationship between the interior and exterior. While some pavilions are open-air, presenting the views of the architecture and landscape along with the artworks in a holistic approach. There are also pavilions which are capable of creating an experience for the visitors while teleporting them to another realm through sound, light and media projections.
The contemporary art collection exhibited in the museum is acknowledged internationally. The museum provides an experience for the artists, and the visitors, wherein the art and the landscape are interconnected to create a collective and exceptional journey. The art pieces curated at the museum are shortlisted after intense research and documentation aiming to generate an understanding of the particularities of the collection while recognising the approach and concept. The quest to unveil special information and knowledge leads to this scrutiny in the commissioning of the artwork. The artists are invited to create works for Inhotim and take art outside the museum space to promote and spread artistic production. The institute strongly believes in creating ambitious works in the permanent exhibition, thus creating a long-term relationship with the artist of its collection.
Apart from housing contemporary art collections focusing on site-specific installations and large-scale works, the museum is also home to several sculptures, photographs, videos, performances, drawings and paintings. Apart from permanent exhibits placed in the galleries, the museum has four technical storage areas where other works of the same collection, like sculptures, paintings, photographs, videos and performances, are kept.
There are a total of 23 galleries, 19 of which are permanent galleries presenting the works of celebrated artists like Tunga, Cildo Meireles, and Miguel Rio Ranco to name a few. The remaining four galleries are dedicated to temporary exhibitions of Lago, Fonte, Praca and Mata, which are updated regularly to present new works and create reinterpretations of the collection. The artists are invited to develop new projects transforming the museum into a space with constant movement and evolution.
The museum is not just only about art, but it also takes into consideration the surrounding ecosystem. Preserving and cultivating the local vegetation was integral to the whole idea. Several imported trees and exotic plants are now grown along with the local vegetation. A wide botanical variety of 1000 palms was created along with pathways, bridges and patios reflecting Brazil’s traditional architecture.
The overall scheme also led to the inclusion of the local population. In 2004, Inhotim was recognised as a foundation by the Federal Institutions and supported by the Brazilian Ministry of Culture. There are also workshops and awareness programmes curated to engage the students, residents and even foreign visitors. This distinctive amalgamation of art, architecture and nature has created a harmonious and captivating set-up for the museum, thus making Inhotim Museum one of its kind.
Home (2023) Inhotim. Available at: https://www.inhotim.org.br/en/ (Accessed: January 31, 2023).
Inhotim, building art in Eden – ARTEMEST (no date). Available at: https://artemest.com/en-us/magazine/looking-around/inhotim (Accessed: January 31, 2023).
Inhotim: Contemporary ruralities (no date) The Architectural League of New York. Available at: https://archleague.org/article/inhotim-contemporary-ruralities/ (Accessed: January 31, 2023).
A semi-subterranean art museum set amongst the forested landscape of Brazil (2019) IGNANT. Available at: https://www.ignant.com/2019/04/03/a-semi-subterranean-art-museum-set-amongst-the-forested-landscape-of-brazil/ (Accessed: January 31, 2023).