Private Donations Take To Portugal One Of The Biggest Collections Of Brazilian Architecture

Collection donations to a Portuguese museum happened right after the National Museum fire

Silas Martí
Matosinhos (Portugal)

Sketches and blueprints from the crown jewels of architects like Niemeyer's body of work, from Pampulha to Brasília, Paulo Mendes da Rocha's MuBE, Lina Bo Bardi's Masp, Vilanova Artigas' School of Architecture building and almost a hundred other architectural projects that defined how Brazil thinks about space.

These are 3,000 items from 200 different collections that were just donated by Brazilian collectors and heirs to Casa da Arquitectura (House of Architecture), a museum housed in an old winery in Matosinhos, a town near Porto (Portugal). The museum now has one of the biggest historical archives of Brazilian architecture in the world, rivaling in size and importance with collections in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.

Exhibition 'Infinito Vão', at Casa da Arquitectura, in Matosinhos, Portugal - Courtesy

​Although the negotiations started years ago, the actual donation agreement happened right after the fire that destroyed Rio's National Museum. What in other times might be a controversy - after all, such a big architecture collection is now outside Brazil -- ends up being a relief, since everything in Casa da Arquitectura seems to be well cared for.

"If someone comes in here with a lit cigarette, he will put it out," says Ana Filipe, who is responsible for storing all pieces, during a visit to the archives. "These rooms have controlled conditions, the air there has less oxygen than normal."

"Nothing was being conserved properly. It was scary and sad," said architect Francesco Perrotta-Bosch, who organized all the donated items. "Architecture collections in Brazil have a long way to go from a conservation perspective. The country needs to evolve a great deal."

Translated by NATASHA MADOV

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