Adjacent to the cathedral , on the Terreiro de Jesus , the modest Museu de Arqueologia e Etnologia (tel. 71/3321-2013, 9 a.m.–5 p.m. Mon.–Fri., 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Sun., R$1) houses a small collection of archaeological objects—some of them found during the excavations carried out at the Praça da Sé —as well as indigenous tools, weapons, and photos depicting traditional indigenous groups.
Much more interesting is the Museu Afro-Brasileiro (tel. 71/3321-2013, 9 a.m.–6 p.m. Mon.–Fri., 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Sat.–Sun., R$5). Along with maps tracing the trade routes that brought African slaves to Bahia , exhibits of objects and artifacts draw interesting parallels between African and Bahian cultural traditions, including capoeira and Candomblé.
A highlight is the museum’s collection of sacred objects and apparel—as well as photos—related to Candomblé and the cult of individual orixás, or divinities, which provide an informative introduction to the Afro-Brazilian religion that is such a strong cultural reference in Bahia. Depicting the orixás are the exquisitely carved wooden panels, inlaid with shells and shiny metals, sculpted by one of Bahia’s most famous artists, Carybé.
The “artwork” in the engaging Museu Tempostal (Rua Gregório de Matos 33, tel. 71/3117-6383, 1–6 p.m. Tues.–Sat., free) recounts Salvador ’s surprisingly rapid transformation over the last century. This is achieved with much originality through an exhibition of postcards (the complete collection numbers an impressive 35,000).
Another attractive 17th-century mansion, the Solar do Ferrão, houses the Museu Abelardo Rodrigues (Rua Gregório de Matos 45, tel. 71/3321-6155, 10 a.m.–6 p.m. Tues.–Sun., R$1). The important collection of over 800 icons of saints, altars, engravings, and other religious objects originally belonged to Pernambucano collector Abelardo Rodrigues, who later sold them to the Bahian state government.