The Best Museums in Ouro Preto, Brazil

The artist Guignard was inspired by Ouro Pretos beautiful scenery and landscapes
The artist Guignard was inspired by Ouro Preto's beautiful scenery and landscapes | © Leandro Neumann Ciuffo / Flickr
Sarah Brown

A colonial town in Minas Gerais, Ouro Preto is like a living museum in itself, with affluent remains of the Gold Rush from the 17th century dotted throughout the city. It’s riddled with Baroque architecture and dozens of 18th-century churches connected by winding, cobbled streets. Among this wealth of history are some incredible museums that dig deeper into the city’s past. Here are some of the best museums in Ouro Preto.

1. Museu Aleijadinho

Museum

museums in Ouro Preto
© Marinelson Almeida / Flickr

Set inside the Matriz Nossa Senhora da Conceição church, the museum pays tribute to Aleijadinho, one of Brazil’s most celebrated Baroque architects. The display features Aleijadinho’s and other 18th-century artists’ masterpieces, including religious figurines and finely-detailed crucifixes. The exhibition is spread across another two churches, Igreja São Francisco de Assis and Paróquia Nossa Senhora das Mercês, and it’s possible to walk between the three.

2. Museu da Inconfidência

Museum

Set inside old municipal headquarters and Ouro Preto‘s former jail, in a building that dates back between 1784 and 1854, the Museu da Inconfidência is a Brazilian history museum and an homage to those who died during an attempted revolution in 1789. It was an unsuccessful movement that fought for Brazilian independence from Portugal and is known as the Inconfidência Mineira. The museum guides visitors through this history, with main attractions including the tomb of Tiradentes (the man behind the revolution, who was later hung in the gallows for his participation) and various manuscripts related to the revolt.

3. Museu do Oratório

Museum

museums in Ouro Preto
© Marinelson Almeida / Flickr

The Museu do Oratório (the Oratory Museum) has a large collection of oratories, religious figurines, intricate altars, and shrines that date back between the 17th and 20th centuries. The museum is set inside the Casa do Noviciado, a three-story reformed mansion, where the Baroque architect and artist Aleijadinho temporarily lived while working on the nearby Igreja Nossa Senhora do Carmo church.

4. Casa dos Contos

Museum

museums in Ouro Preto, Brazil
© Luis Rizo / WikiCommons

The Casa dos Contos museum is set inside an 18th-century building that was once a treasury house that was occasionally used as a temporary prison for those involved in the Inconfidência Mineira revolution. Nowadays, the former mansion has been repurposed into this museum, which guides visitors through the history of gold and money in Brazil. The museum also decorates rooms to show how they may have looked centuries ago, and in the basement is a moving exhibition containing various slave paraphernalia.

5. Museu da Farmácia

Museum

museums in Ouro Preto
© Raquel Mendes Silva / WikiCommons

As part of the School of Pharmacy, which is integrated into the Federal University of Ouro Preto, the Museum of Pharmacy is dedicated to the studies and professional practice of pharmacy and medicine between the 19th and 20th centuries in Ouro Preto. The displays include a preserved archive of notes—some local, some from Europe—equipment, and different types of medicine and drugs dating back to the 18th century.

6. Mine du Veloso

Museum

The Mine du Veloso is a former gold mine with 400 meters of underground chamber supported by pillars. A guide takes visitors through the mine, describing the history of Brazil’s search for gold and the various techniques employed by the enslaved Africans that worked there, as well as discussing the day-to-day life and customs of the miners. The tour is available in Portuguese and English.

7. Museu Casa Guignard

Museum

museums in Ouro Preto
© Leandro Neumann Ciuffo / Flickr

Opened in 1987, the Museu Casa Guignard pays tribute to Alberto da Veiga Guignard, one of Brazil’s best painters and designers from the 20th century. The museum guides visitors through a timeline, starting from Guignard’s birth until his death, with a display that celebrates both his artistic masterpieces and his personal life. There are three rooms in the museum with permanent exhibitions and his paintings capture his passion and love for Brazil’s landscapes, especially Ouro Preto.

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