The Best Contemporary Art Galleries And Spaces In Rio de Janeiro

Museu Nacional de Belas Artes or National Fine Arts Museum, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Museu Nacional de Belas Artes or National Fine Arts Museum, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. | © Jon Arnold Images Ltd / Alamy
Chloe Hay

As the favourite city of many international globetrotters, Rio de Janeiro is one of Brazil’s true cultural hotspots. Home to a broad selection of incredible art galleries – from underground exhibition spaces to architectural wonders complete with floor to ceiling windows – lovers of contemporary art in all of its forms will never want to leave this bustling metropolis. We update our guide to the top nine art galleries in Rio.

1. Artur Fidalgo

Artur Fidalgo

Courtesy of Artur Fidalgo

Courtesy of Artur Fidalgo

Ernesto Neto, Gabriela Machado, Derlon, Malu Saddi and Victor Arruda are just some of the incredible artists whose creations can be admired at the Artur Fidalgo Gallery. Having opened its doors to the art fanatics of Rio back in 1987, this gallery is one of the most established smaller exhibition spaces within the city. Showcasing works by both emerging and internationally acclaimed artists, the Artur Fidalgo Gallery believes in displaying diversity and innovation in each of its exhibitions. A more personal and intimate gallery than many, Artur Fidalgo is the perfect place for peace and quiet, offering the chance to enjoy solitary appreciation of fine pieces of art in this constantly busy city.
Artur Fidalgo, R. Siqueira Campos 143 ljs.147 to 150 2nd floor, Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, +55 21 2549 6278

2. Museu de Arte Contemporanea Niteroi

Building, Museum

© Zoonar GmbH / Alamy
Shaped like a saucer, the impressive Museu de Arte Contemporanea Niteroi is both an architectural wonder from the outside and a contemporary art lover’s paradise inside. A vast array of artworks are exhibited throughout the different areas of the gallery, including pieces by both local and international artists. The unusual shape and design of the space lends itself perfectly to some truly unique exhibitions, which can be appreciated from a variety of angles in both the Hall of Exhibitions and from the viewing gallery. The huge glass windows that allow natural light to flood across the gallery offer intoxicating views out over the nearby sea and mountains – undoubtedly a piece of art in itself.

3. Museu de Arte do Rio

Museu de Arte do Rio

One of the most recent additions to Rio’s cultural scene, the Museu de Arte do Rio was opened just last year in a bid to shake up, renew and revitalise the city’s artistic footprint in the run up to the 2014 World Cup. Designed by the amazingly talented architects of Bernardes + Jacobsen Arquitetura, the gallery is split between three buildings, all of which are joined together by one gigantic roof. The Museu de Arte do Rio is home to over 3000 pieces of art, which are rotated in its exhibitions throughout the year, giving locals reason to visit time and time again, sure to always see something new.
Museu de Arte do Rio, Praça Mauá 5 – Centro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, ‎+55 21 3031 2741

5. Galeria de Arte Ipanema

Art Gallery

Since its inception 45 years ago, the Galeria de Arte Ipanema has become known as one of the most important art institutions in the country. Over the decades, the gallery has exhibited a considerable amount of incredible artworks including pieces by Cicero Dias, Volpi, Frederico Seve, Lygia Clark, Ivan Serpa, Tomie Ohtake and Pancetti. Possibly the first art gallery in Rio to pay homage to the modernist movement, it is true to say that no cultural tour of Rio de Janeiro is complete without a visit to the exceptional Galeria de Arte Ipanema.

6. Museu Internacional de Arte Naif

Museu Internacional de Arte Naif

Home to the largest and most comprehensive collection of contemporary naive art in Brazil, the Museu Internacional de Arte Naif is home to more than 5000 artworks created by Brazilian artists from every state throughout the country as well as boasting works by international artists from 100 different countries. The term ‘naive art’ was first used to describe the artistic style of Henri Rousseau, who was deemed not to fit in with other artistic movements of his time, due to his work being so avant-garde. Today, the term is used to include works of art that display effortless truth and originality, inspired by emotions and created using non-standard techniques.
Museu Internacional de Arte Naif, Rua Cosme Velho 561, Cosme Velho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, +55 21 2205 8612

7. Museu Nacional de Belas Artes


© Karol Kozlowski Premium RM Collection / Alamy
One of Rio de Janeiro’s most important cultural and artistic institutions is the Museu Nacional de Belas Artes (National Museum of Fine Art). Located in the centre of the city, the museum is home to more than 18,000 original artworks and sculptures making it one of the most abundant art spaces in the country. The museum itself is divided into different galleries and exhibition spaces dedicated to varying genres of art, including 20th century classical art, African art, Brazilian folk art and more contemporary exhibits. To really appreciate all that the museum has to offer, a guided tour is highly recommended. To organise a tour in English, visitors will need to call ahead to make a booking.

8. Severo 172

Art Gallery

Offering a whole other perspective on Brazilian art, Severo 172 is the epitome of an underground art gallery. This warehouse-style art gallery is used to exhibit works of art by Rio de Janeiro’s most acclaimed graffiti artists. Many of the pieces seen here are also for sale for a premium rate, demonstrating that this genre of art really has grown to be considerably popular in Brazil. Unsurprisingly, Severo 172 is located in the edgier part of town, seamlessly assimilating with the local vibe of ‘cool’. Severo 172 is definitely worth seeking out if street-style and urban art is what you’re looking for.

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