Niterói Contemporary Art Museum, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

The Niterói Contemporary Art Museum (Portuguese: Museu de Arte Contemporânea de Niterói — MAC) is situated in the city of Niterói, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and is one of the city’s main landmarks. It was completed in 1996.

Built on the Mirador da Boa Viagem, on the edge of Niterói, the museum, with its futuristic facade, allows the visitor to enjoy panoramic views that are offered either outside the museum, from the patio, or inside the museum for a look by the ring of windows that divides this gigantic ” concrete plate ” into two tracks.

The MAC still has educational activities since 1996, called the Communicative Challenges of Contemporary Art, with the intention, according to the museum administration, to encourage “contemporary artistic production, which is exposed in a public space where individuals not belonging to the world of art. ”

Designed by Oscar Niemeyer with the assistance of structural engineer Bruno Contarini, who had worked with Niemeyer on earlier projects, the MAC-Niterói is 16 meters high; its cupola has a diameter of 50 meters with three floors. The museum projects itself over Boa Viagem (“Bon Voyage,” “Good Journey”) beach and also a neighborhood, the 817 square metres (8,790 sq ft) reflecting pool that surrounds the cylindrical base “like a flower,” in the words of Niemeyer.

A wide access slope leads to a Hall of Expositions, which has a capacity for sixty people. Two doors lead to the viewing gallery, through which can be seen Guanabara Bay, Rio de Janeiro, and Sugarloaf Mountain. The saucer-shaped modernist structure, which has been likened to a UFO, is set on a cliffside, at the bottom of which is a beach. In the film Oscar Niemeyer, an architect committed to his century, Niemeyer is seen flying over Rio de Janeiro in a UFO which then lands on the site, suggesting this to be the origin of the museum.

MAC Niterói completed its 20 years of public life in 2016. Since its inauguration it was immediately adopted as a symbol of the city and quickly considered one of the architectural wonders of the world. The Museum of Contemporary Art of Niterói (MAC Niterói) was reopened to the public on June 16, 2016 after going through an unprecedented number of works, with public investments of the City Hall of Niterói and the Federal Government. It is at this moment that you must revisit your vision and public mission, projecting a new museum concept – MAC +20 – with perspectives and commitments for the renewal of futures that begin with the sense of place of creation, of synthesis and unity between art, culture and society in environmental integration.

MAC Niterói was inaugurated in 1996 to host the João Sattamini Collection, one of the main collections of contemporary art in Brazil. Exceeding all expectations, the MAC designed the city of Niterói to the world, becoming one of the main sights of Rio de Janeiro and Brazil.

Since the choice of the Mirante da Boa Viagem by Oscar Niemeyer, the entire creation of the architectural form of the MAC – circular suspended in front of the Guanabara Bay with a spiral ramp – already expresses in itself the power of the museum as a place that celebrates the special encounter between freedom of artistic creation and society as parts of the world-landscape. At the same time, the futuristic form demands the commitment and challenge of belonging and public acceptance to the sharing of the place of creating new affects in human relations as part of Niemeyer’s vision proposing the experience of accessible beauty for rich and poor. The Utopian function of MAC to anticipate futures for the 21st Century is born of this intuition and architectural communion with the wonderful landscape. But demand of all the participation to be realized like a new concept of museum,

The re-invention and reopening of the MAC projects as a +20 as a new collaborative view embracing its circular symbolic form as an open museum for the world-landscape and its surroundings. All the spaces of the museum, its outer courtyard like square; the ramp as path sculpture; the balcony as great sentinel for the landscape and environment; the main hall as agora space – forum; and its mezzanine as a circle of aesthetic experiences, are being designed as a laboratory of public interfaces for experimental artistic practices. In this same expanded and multi-sensorial perspective of the arts, exhibitions are being designed along with the concept of nuclear irradiation for integrated activities among Boa Viagem institutions including the Solar do Jambeiro, the Janete Museum of Popular Art, the Ingá Museum and Ilha da Boa Travel.

In this sense, the MAC will be assuming its full vocation as a catalytic interface agent through integrated programs of exhibitions, artistic, educational, environmental and social actions, such as a Futures Laboratory that radiates from the Mirante da Boa Viagem to the city, country and world. It is also worth mentioning its commitment to the MAC Collection Sattamini, aiming at the construction of a new technical reserve – shared school with the Ingá Museum, an unprecedented concept in Brazil.

MAC Niterói will rely on three bases for a new concept of museum:

Laboratory of Futures Museum for practices and research on experimental crossings and syntheses between art, science and human relations (education) with new conceptualizations of environmental and community expositions and irradiations;

Viva Collection – Collection of experiences Curatorial studies based on the paradigm and poetic changes of contemporary Brazilian art through the MAC – João Sattamini collections with investments in research, residency program, courses, seminars and publications;

Technical reserve shared New facilities for the collection – Concept Pioneiro of Technical Reserve and Technical School of Conservation and Restoration – State of Rio de Janeiro and the City of Niterói. Special project of the architect Glauco Campello.

Luiz Guilherme Vergara (former Director and Curator from 2002 to 2008 and from 2012 to 2016)

Built in 1996, it stands out in the landscape for the boldness of its contemporary features, which make it resemble a chalice or flying saucer. It took five years to erect the four-storey structure, inscribed on a square of 2,500 square meters.

“Student in the early 1960s, I looked at Niemeyer’s work as a stimulus, carefully examining the designs of each new project. Forty years later, he still has the power to surprise us.
The Niteroi museum is a good example. Positioned on the rocky promontory as an exotic plant, it shatters the conventional juxtaposing art with a panoramic view of the Rio de Janeiro harbor. It is as if in his mind he had crushed, on the rocks below, the conventional gallery box, and challenged us to see art and nature as two equal things.

“The building itself of MAC Niterói is the first work that the museum offers to contemplation. The structure of circular lines of the building presents itself like a sculpture of 16 meters of height in open square, in which the mirror of water placed in its base and the used lighting gives great lightness. The outer winding ramp leads to the interior, with two decks. The modern architectural complex, designed by the architect Oscar Niemeyer, presents bare and hard concrete in a round, smooth and modern shape, as it is already a trademark of almost every Oscar Niemeyer work.

In the first floor, the Administration works. On the second floor are the exhibition hall and the panoramic, glassed-in balcony, also reserved for exhibitions. The mezzanine, in turn, which surrounds the entire interior of the museum, is divided into smaller rooms, designed for exhibitions. In the basement there is a storage area, a bar, a restaurant and a conference auditorium.

The museum has 2,500 square meters of area and its construction took five years, requiring 300 workers. 3.2 million cubic meters of concrete were consumed, enough to raise a 10-storey building. The building is 50 meters in diameter, having received thermal treatment and waterproofing. The structure can withstand a weight of about 400 kilograms per square meter and speed winds of up to 200 kilometers per hour.

The permanent collection of MAC is made up of the João Sattamini Collection, a collection of more than a thousand pieces, gathered since the 1950s by the collector João Sattamini, constituting the second largest collection of contemporary art in Brazil. The idea of creating the museum, according to Roberto da Silveira, arises from the intention of João Sattamini to donate his art collection to the city. And the museum is born precisely to house it.

Started in 1966, when Sattamini resides in Italy, the collection of almost 1,200 works is defined as one of the most significant sets of Brazilian art produced between the 1950 and 1990. The collection covers a wide spectrum of contemporary art as it came consolidating in Brazil from the 1950s. Here are works by, for example, João Carlos Goldberg, Frans Krajcberg, Tomie Ohtake, Abraham Palatnik, Mira Schendel and Carlos Vergara, among others. These works reveal the influence of many contemporary artistic trends, such as the New Brazilian Objectivity, Experimentalism, Concretism and Neoconcretism.

In addition to the João Sattamini Collection, MAC NIT also has the MAC Collection of Niterói, which is currently made up of 369 works of art donated by artists who have held exhibitions at the Museum.

Since the realization of this project, the Municipality of Niterói invited the architect to carry out other works in the city. The series of urban interventions and buildings housing cultural activities that follow, and which follow a continuous range in the landscape of the city, are known as Niemeyer Path.

The Niemeyer Road currently includes ten projects, five completed, two under construction and three still under construction: Niterói Museum of Contemporary Art, JK Square, Roberto Silveira Memorial, Niterói Popular Theater, Charitas Waterway Station, Terminal Building Barcas de Charitas and the Oscar Niemeyer Foundation.

In addition to the scheduled exhibitions, there is a regular schedule:

Glorinha and Renato – Show children’s musical always on the 2nd Saturday of each month at 11 am in the auditorium (the museum’s basement).
Cineclube Cineolho – Venue: auditorium (underground of the museum), distribution of passwords from 3.30 pm (60 seats).
Cultural Exchange Fair – In the museum courtyard, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. – 1st Sunday of the month – bring your cultural objects, used or not, to exhibit and carry out the exchanges. Parallel to the fair, there will be Tocata Aberta, an experimental workshop of intuitive music.
Meeting for Teachers – Venue: auditorium (museum subsoil) – Every 3rd Thursday of the month, from 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. – Monthly educational program for teachers and students of undergraduate courses in all areas of knowledge.
Guided Visit for the Spontaneous Public – Every Saturday, 11:00 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. to 3:40 p.m.
Storytelling at the MAC of Niterói – Every Sunday, 4pm.
Tai Chi Chuan – Wednesdays and Fridays, from 07:30 to 08:30; Sundays, from 08h30 to 09h30.
The MAC Bistro is located in the basement of the museum. It works on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays, from 9am to 6pm. Fridays and Saturdays, from 9 am to midnight.

Library and publications
The library has approximately 40,000 documents about modern and contemporary Brazilian art. Books, catalogs, theses, dissertations, dossiers (of visual artists, art critics, architecture and design), magazines, clippings, multimedia (DVD, CD, CDROM and VHS) and other informational, focused items in the history and memory of the institution, are made available by the Division of Theory, Research, Curation and Documentation for consultation.

Getting there
For those of you in Rio de Janeiro, the most usual and quickest way to get to the Museum of Contemporary Art in Niterói is to go to Plaza XV and cross the Guanabara Bay by boat.

Arriving in Niterói (Praça Arariboia), head for João Goulart Bus Terminal, next to the boat station. From there, buses leave for the Oceanic Region of Niterói, Icaraí beach, Charitas and adjacent neighborhoods. Among the bus lines that pass through the Museum is line 47B. Alternatively, the transportation via taxi from the station to the ferry and the MAC museum is available and advisable, with the race taking no more than 5-10 minutes.