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Coordinates: 22°54′31.57″S 43°10′32.54″W / 22.9087694°S 43.1757056°W / -22.9087694; -43.1757056

Detail of First Mass in Brazil (1861), by Victor Meirelles, in the Museu Nacional de Belas Artes.

The Museu Nacional de Belas Artes (National Museum of Fine Arts) is an art museum located in the city of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. It is considered one of the most important Brazilian museums.


The history of the museum begins in 1808, with the arrival of King John VI of Portugal in Rio, fleeing the invasion of Portugal by French troops. The King brought a collection of works of art, later enlarged by Joachim Lebreton, a French artist who led the French Artistic Mission that came to Brazil in 1816 to help organise the arts in the country.

This first art collection became part of the Royal School of Art created by John VI. Its building - designed by French Neoclassical architect Grandjean de Montigny - was inaugurated in 1826 by Brazilian Emperor Peter I. Subsequent acquisitions greatly enlarged the art collection.

In the 1900s, the centre of Rio de Janeiro was extensively remodelled following the models of Parisian urbanisation. Between 1906 and 1908, a new building was constructed for the National School of Fine Arts in the Central Avenue (now Avenida Rio Branco), very close to the new main square of the city (the Cinelândia). The style of the new building, designed by Spanish architect Adolfo Morales de los Ríos, is clearly inspired by the Louvre Museum in Paris. The National Museum of Fine Arts was officially created in 1937.


Since its beginning in 1808, the collection of works of art has been enormously expanded and now has around 16000 items. The collections include painting, sculpture, drawing as well as decorative arts, furniture, folk art and African art.

The best collection of the museum is that of 19th and early 20th century painting and sculpture, produced both by Brazilians and foreign artists visiting Brazil. Artists represented include: Frans Post, Nicolas-Antoine Taunay, Jean Baptiste Debret, Félix Taunay, Victor Meirelles, Pedro Américo, Almeida Júnior, Rodolfo Amoedo, Zeferino da Costa, Rodolfo Bernardelli, Eliseu Visconti, Candido Portinari, Djanira, Tarsila do Amaral, Emiliano Di Cavalcanti, Oswaldo Goeldi, Cícero Dias, Lasar Segall, Amílcar de Castro, Louis Eugène Boudin and Pablo Picasso.It also has Italian Baroque paintings;artists represented include;Luca Cambiaso,Passerotti,and G.B.Tiepolo.

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