The Inhotim Institute is home to one of the most important collections of contemporary art in Brazil and considered the largest outdoor art center in Latin America. The galleries dedicated to solo presentations of artist and the permanent outdoor works, four galleries – Fonte, Lago, Mata and Praça – house temporary exhibitions drawn from the growing contemporary art collection which now consists of more than 700 works by 200 artists from different countries around the world. By collaborating with artists in commissioning new works and adapting existing ones to new spaces, Inhotim’s artistic projects have dealt with landscape and nature, and have accumulated an impressive grouping of large-scale works. Having arisen from a private garden, Inhotim has developed an intensive line of work aimed at the preservation and development of vegetation and botanical research, pursuing new ways to preserve the biodiversity of the surrounding region and Brazil.
Instituto Inhotim is located in Brumadinho, 60 kilometers (37 miles) from Belo Horizonte, the capital of the state of Minas Gerais, and the third largest metropolitan area in Brazil. Inhotim features an internationally relevant art collection, located within 140 hectares (346 acres) of forests and botanical gardens. The botanical collection is shown in the institution’s gardens signed by the landscape designer Pedro Nehring and maintained in climate-controlled greenhouses and it contains about 4,200 species of plants, many of them threatened with extinction. In addition to these fields of art and botanical collection and research, Inhotim offers educational actions and an important program of social inclusion and citizenship for the local population, through programs developed with the local communities, organized social groups, corporate segments, public sector and regional institutions focused on culture and tradition.
Alongside its cultural role, activity that has qualified the institute as a civil-society organization of public interest (OSCIP) recognized by the Brazil’s Federal Government and by the State of Minas Gerais, in 2010 the institution received the official title of Botanical Garden by the Comissão Nacional de Jardins Botânicos.
In the 1980s, Paz began buying tracts of land surrounding his modest farmhouse as developers threatened to destroy the natural landscape. The farm had been named by locals after a former owner, a British engineer known as Senhor Tim — Nhô Tim in Minas Gerais’s dialect.
Paz soon converted the then 3,000-acre ranch into a sprawling, 5,000-acre botanical garden designed by his friend, the late landscape artist Roberto Burle Marx. The project began when Brazilian contemporary artist Tunga persuaded Paz to start collecting contemporary art. Eventually, he allowed artists all the space and resources they needed to create larger-than-life works. The garden, which boasts two dozen art “pavilions”, opened to the public in 2006. The pavilions include more than 500 works by noted Brazilian and international artists, such as Hélio Oiticica, Yayoi Kusama, Anish Kapoor, Thomas Hirschhorn, Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster, Steve McQueen, Cildo Meireles and Vik Muniz. One pavilion is devoted to one of Paz′s ex-wives, the Brazilian artist Adriana Varejão.
In 2008, a geodesic dome designed by Paula Zasnicoff Cardoso of the Brazilian architectural practice Arquitetos Associados, was constructed within a eucalyptus forest and now contains Matthew Barney’s installation De Lama Lâmina [From Mud, a Blade] (2004–08), which shows a vehicle uprooting a tree. Chris Burden’s Beam Drop (1984/2008) is made of 72 steel beams dropped 45 meters from 150-foot-high cranes into a pit filled with wet cement. Sonic Pavilion by Doug Aitken was realized in 2009 and consists of a circular building of frosted glass on top of a hill which contains a well. This goes down 200 meters into the ground and at its bottom microphones capture the sounds of the earth which are then amplified and played live in the gallery above. Vegetation Room (2012), by Cristina Iglesias, is a cube of polished stainless steel reflecting the surrounding forest. Visitors slip into crevices where the walls are sculpted foliage, entering a labyrinth within the labyrinth; at the cube’s heart, torrents of water periodically rush.
In 2011, Inhotim joined the Brazilian government’s official botanical garden association, and the staff has begun an inventory of its 4,500 plant species, including 1,300 types of palm alone. There are greenhouses for unusually rare plants.
The Instituto Inhotim is located within the domain of the Atlantic Forest, with enclaves of cerrado in the tops of the mountains. Situated at an altitude ranging from 700 m to 1,300 m above sea level, its total area is 786.06 hectares, having as a preservation area 440.16 ha, which comprise the forest fragments and include a Private Reserve of Patrimony Natural (RPPN), with 145.37 ha.
The Inhotim visitation area has 96.87 ha and includes gardens, galleries, buildings and forest fragments, as well as five ornamental lakes, with approximately 3.5 hectares of water mirror. The botanical garden has 4,300 species in cultivation – a mark reached in 2011 – and is surrounded by native forest , with thirty percent of the entire collection on display to the public (about 102 hectares in 2011). In recognition of the need to preserve the 145 hectares of reserve, the institute received from the Ministry of the Environment in February 2011 the official classification of botanical gardens in category C. In this garden, are about 1,500 species cataloged of palm tree, the largest collection of the type of the world.
In February 2010, the white cube pavilions were replaced by transparent facilities. The intention is to promote dialogue with the surrounding mountains and woods. In an article by Fabiano Cypriano for the newspaper Folha de S. Paulo, it is mentioned that the changes create more local roots and Inhotim “becomes a new paradigm for the exhibition of contemporary production”.
Open from Tuesday to Sunday and on holidays, Inhotim offers theme visits, with monitors, as well as educational visits for school groups, which must be arranged in advance. On Wednesdays, entrance is free.
The park houses several rare plants, both native and exotic.
The Institute is the only place in Latin America that has a specimen of the corpse, a species native to Asia known as the largest flower in the world. The specimen first bloomed on December 15, 2010, and again on December 27, 2012. The flower is in the Nursery Educator, in the Equatorial Greenhouse, was exposed to the public, and could be visited by interested and curious.
In addition to the 170 works of art on display, the museum has 98 banks of the designer Hugo França. The first bench was placed in the garden in 1990, under the shade of the angler tree, one of the symbols of the park. The banks are made of trunks and roots of pequi-vinegar tree, common tree in the Atlantic forest, that are found dead or dead in the forest.
In 2014, the museum was chosen by the TripAdvisor site, one of the 25 museums of the world more evaluated by the users.