Pinacoteca do Estado
São Paulo’s oldest art museum, the Pinacoteca do Estado (Praça da Luz 2, Luz, tel. 11/3229-9844, www.pinacoteca.sp.gov.br, 10 a.m.–6 p.m. Tues.–Sun., R$5, free Sat.) has been around since 1905. Back then, its collection consisted of a mere 26 paintings. Today, it has swollen to an impressive 7,000 works, most of them representing major Brazilian painters and sculptors of the 19th and 20th centuries.
Aside from the permanent collection, the Pinacoteca hosts some of São Paulo’s most compelling temporary exhibitions, featuring both national and international artists who work in all media.
The building itself—a neoclassical palace made of honey-colored brick that received an inspired renovation in the late 1990s—is spacious and showcases the art splendidly. Downstairs a charming café serves pastries and light meals. Although the service is notoriously shoddy, sitting at an outside table facing the sculptures in the Parque da Luz more than compensates.
Purchasing a ticket to the Pinacoteca also gives you access to its nearby sister gallery, the Estação Pinacoteca (Largo General Osório 86, Luz, tel. 11/3337-0185, 10 a.m.–6 p.m. Tues.–Sun.). Built in 1914 as a railroad warehouse, during the military dictatorship it was converted into the headquarters of the DOPS (Department of Political and Social Order), a repressive organ that specialized in torturing political prisoners.
Following a renovation in 2003, it reopened as an extension of the Pinacoteca with a permanent collection of works by Brazilian modernists such as Tarsila do Amaral and Emiliano Di Cavalcanti as well as Picasso, Chagall, and Léger. Part of the building houses the Museu da Liberdade, where you can learn about Brazil’s military dictatorship, view photos of political prisoners, and even (rather morbidly) step into the cells in which they were held.
© Michael Sommers from Moon Brazil, 2nd Edition