Photo Credit: The Afro Brasil Museum
The Afro Brazil Museum Is The Largest Of The African Diaspora In Latin America
The largest museum of the African diaspora in Latin America, the Afro Brazil Museum (Museu Afro Brasil), is a must-go site in São Paulo. You don’t want to miss it if you are visiting the city.
The museum is a cultural gem, which chronicles the ethnographic history of Afro-Brazilians in the largest Black population country outside Africa. The museum was opened in 2004, and it is located at Ibirapuera Park, in São Paulo’s south central area.
The collection of more than 6,000 pieces of art and antiques explores the many ways in which African culture has shaped Brazilian society, passing through the history of the transatlantic slave trade and the African Diaspora in Brazil— the last country in the Western Hemisphere to officially abolish slavery in 1888— to an exhibition of paintings and sculptures by contemporary Afro-Brazilian artists.
As might be expected, the exhibitions on the history of slavery in Brazil can be thoughtful, disturbing and, in many ways, majestic. It contains moving photos of hundreds of slaves and their “owners” and numerous illustrations, paintings, and 19th-century newspaper excerpts relating to slavery and other aspects of the Afro-Brazilian experience. There is even an original manuscript that finally led to the abolition of slavery in 1888.
The museum displays numerous real torture instruments and devices used by slave owners, partial restoration of the remains of a slave ship, and agricultural equipment that enslaved Afro-Brazilians used in the harsh and often deadly labor on Brazilian agricultural farms.
The Afro Brazil Museum also highlights the important role that the Africans played in Brazilian culture, which left a rich legacy of traditions such as religion, medicine, social organizations, politics, technology, gastronomy, art, music and sports. The exhibitions showcase vibrant Afro-Brazilian art influenced by artifacts such as masks from different parts of the African continent. Even the history of relationship and cultural exchange between fleeing African slaves and the indigenous peoples of Brazil have its own fascinating exhibition space.
The art gallery at the entrance displays a large collection of contemporary sacred and religious art from the African Diaspora in other parts of Latin America and the Caribbean. You can find treasures such as voodoo dolls from Haiti, Santeria sculptures from Cuba and gorgeous Candomblé (Afro-Brazilian religion) sculptures.