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Sao Paulo Museum’s Guide

Football and carnival events in Brazil are very famous worldwide, however, many tourists have no idea what Brazilian art is like. That’s really a shame because our art pieces are excellent and show the history of a great country.

Regardless of the short art history, Brazil has (the result of late independence of Portugal), its museums have very high-quality standards.

If you like art, you won’t regret visiting them! Read further this Sao Paulo museum’s guide to learn a little more about Brazil.

MASP (Museu de Arte de Sao Paulo)

The building is a distinct block of concrete and glass sustained by 2 parallel red beams over a 74 meters free-standing space.

This is the most famous postcard of Sao Paulo and has an iconic construction to be appreciated. Its architecture is certainly unusual and even the way paintings are hung is interesting.

The museum showcases Brazilian prints and drawings, a smaller collection of African and Asian art, and the most important European collection from different periods in the South Hemisphere.

Opening times: Tuesday to Sunday from 10 am to 6 pm, Thursday from 10 am to 8 pm. It’s closed on Mondays.

Tickets: adults pay R$30 (around $9). There is a discount for students/ 60+. Children up to 10 years old don’t pay. On Tuesdays, the entrance is free for everyone.

Address: 1578 Paulista Avenue, Bela Vista.

CC BY-SA 3.0 Morio

Soccer Museum

It’s impossible to think about Brazil and not to make an association with football. Brazilians are passionate about this sport and even if you’re not a sport’s fan, this captivating museum will certainly entertain you.

The Soccer Museum is very interactive and makes a connection between soccer and cultural/ political events in the world.

Like most museums in Sao Paulo, the entrance is inexpensive. Enjoy it!

The museum is located in the Pacaembu Stadium, so when there is a match, the visitation times change.

Opening times: Tuesday to Friday from 9 am to 4 pm, weekends and holidays from 10 am to 5 pm. It’s closed on Mondays.

Tickets: adults pay R$10 (around $3). There is a discount for students/ 60+. Children up to 7 years old don’t pay. On Saturdays, the entrance is free for everyone.

Address: Charles Miller Square, Pacaembu.

CC BY-SA 4.0 Mike Peel
CC BY 2.0 Beraldo Leal

Ipiranga Museum

The museum is closed for renovation. It’s due to re-open in 2022, however, the garden is daily open from 5 am to 8 pm.

After Brazil proclaimed independence from Portugal, people proposed to build a monument in the place where independence was announced.

The construction was then built next to it and it is inspired by the Palace of Versailles in Paris.

Today this stunning building is a museum showcasing Brazilian history. Pay special attention to the most famous painting, Independence or death by Pedro Americo.

It represents the moment Dom Pedro announced the separation from Portugal. He cried out next to the Ipiranga Stream: “Brazilians, independence or death”.

Later on, the Monument to the Independence of Brazil was designed in the museum’s gardens.

The Brazilian Imperial Crypt was built inside the monument and it houses the remains of Emperor Pedro I of Brazil, his first wife, Maria Leopoldina of Austria, and his second wife, Amelie of Leuchtenberg.

Address: Independence Park, Ipiranga.

CC BY 3.0 Luiz Coelho


The oldest art museum in Sao Paulo and one of the most important museums in Brazil, the Pinacoteca houses international and national sculptures and paintings of the 19th-century, and Brazilian modern art.

Totally worth the visit to learn more about the local art and to see the building, which it’s a piece of art itself.

Even though Brazil has a short art history, if compared to European countries, this small gem has an extensive collection of Brazilian art.

Opening times: Wednesday to Monday from 10 am to 5:30 pm. It’s closed on Tuesday.

Tickets: adults pay R$6 (around $2).

Address: 2 Luz Square, Luz.

CC-BY-SA-4.0 Mike Peel
CC BY 2.0 Paulisson Miura

Museum of Image and Sound – MIS

This museum was founded with the purpose to exhibit the works of art of new media which were neglected by conventional museums.

The Museum of Image and Sound houses more than 200.000 media, such as documentaries, photographs, films, records, etc.

They very often house excellent exhibitions too, like Tim Burton’s work, Frida Kahlo and so on.

Opening times: Tuesday to Saturday from 10 am to 9 pm. Sunday and holidays from 10 am to 7 pm. It’s closed on Tuesday.

Tickets: it’s not expensive, but the price depends on the exhibition. On Tuesdays, the entrance is free for everyone.

Address: 158 Europa Avenue, Jardim Europa.

Bank of Brazil Cultural Center

BBCC is the 3rd most visited cultural center in Brazil and the 68th in the world. It has an old, but well-cared construction which dates to the beginning of the 20th century.

This multidisciplinary cultural center has relevant spaces for national and international culture, like musical projects, films, exhibitions, theatrical performances, etc.

Ps: They have the best coffee in Sao Paulo!

Opening times: Wednesday to Monday from 9 am to 9 pm. It’s closed on Tuesdays.

Tickets: Performing arts and music R$20 (around $6). Films R$10 (around $3). Exhibition and educational programs are free.

Address: 112 Alvares Penteado Street, Center.


Tomie Ohtake Institute

Prevented to leave Brazil due to the Pacific War, Tomie Ohtake, a Japanese artist, re-started her life in Sao Paulo and began painting only in her 40s.

A reference in abstract art, Tomie had over 30 of her works spread across many cities in the country.

This institute is designed to house art exhibitions that focus on the last 60 years and on the previous artistic movements that contributed to a better understanding of the period Tomie developed her work. Check out the Tomie Ohtake website for the cultural agenda.

When I visited this museum, Yayoi Kusama’s exhibition Infinite Obsession was in the exhibition. If you have any idea of how peculiar, abstract, and innovative this artist is, you will understand how much I loved it.

And that is exactly the kind of art they showcase here. Original artworks that invite to think out of the box.

Depending on the exhibition, it might be crowded. For example, if it is the last week of a current exposition or for a famous artist. That was the case for Yayoi Kusama.

Pssst: The institute is located in a peculiar and gorgeous pink building!

Opening times: Tuesday to Sunday from 11 am to 8 pm.

Tickets: It has free entrance, but some exhibitions require payment. Check out the program on the link above to confirm that.

Address: 88 Coropes Street, Pinheiros

CC BY 2.0 Paulisson Miura

The following museums are in Ibirapuera Park. I’ve marked them on a map, so you can easily locate them.

Afro-Brazilian Museum

It highlights the African perspective in the formation of Brazilian heritage and identity.

The museum approaches different themes of the African and Afro-Brazilian culture, such as religion, slavery, art, etc. This is the largest Afro-American museum in the American continent and it’s incredible!

When I went there, no explanations in English/ Spanish were to be found, however, the museum is very visual, so it’s still absolutely interesting.

A lot of American/ British friends who have been there said the same: the museum is amazing!

Architecture-wise, the modern building was designed by the acclaimed Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer, who also designed the Sao Paulo Biennial Foundation, OCA, and the Ibirapuera music hall.

Opening times: Tuesday to Sunday from 10 am to 5 pm. It’s closed on Mondays.

Tickets: adults pay R$6 (around $2). There is a discount for students/ 60+. Children up to 10 years old don’t pay. On Saturdays, the entrance is free for everyone.

CC BY 3.0 Sailko

Sao Paulo Biennial Foundation

The Foundation is famous for hosting the biggest exhibition of contemporary art in the Southern Hemisphere every 2 years (It happens around Sept-Dec of even years, free entrance) and, in the meantime, it hosts art/ literature-related events.

It’s a reference in Latin America. Check out the Biennial Foundation website for more information about the next edition.

OCA Pavilion

This dome-shaped construction has this name because Oca in Portuguese is the house where the Brazilian Indians live, the very first people to inhabit this land. It used to house the Folklore Museum, but now it hosts temporary art exhibitions.

Opening times: Tuesday to Sunday from 9 am to 5 pm. It’s closed on Mondays.

CC BY-SA 3.0 Eduardo Yamanaka

Sao Paulo Museum of Modern Art – MAM

This museum is designed after the MoMA in NY and it’s one of the first museums of Modern Art in Latin America.

It showcases more than 5.000 paintings and sculptures of Latin artists, however, most works of art are from Brazilians. If you are into modern art check out this museum!

Opening times: Tuesday to Sunday from 10 am to 5:30 pm. It’s closed on Mondays.

Tickets: adults pay R$6 (around $2). There is a discount for students/ 60+. Children up to 10 years old don’t pay. On Saturdays, the entrance is free for everyone.

CC BY-SA 2.0 Sergio Savarese

Sao Paulo Museum of Contemporary Art – MAC USP

One of the largest museums in Brazil, the MAC (Museu de Arte Contemporaria) houses high-quality contemporary works of art of all Latin America. If you enjoy this kind of art, this is a must! Take your time to appreciate everything, however, if you’re in a hurry, choose the floor that appeals to you most.

If you enjoy this kind of art, this is a must! Take your time to appreciate everything, however, if you’re in a hurry, choose the floor that appeals to you most.

Don’t miss the panoramic view of Sao Paulo at the top floor. It’s breathtaking!

Opening times: Tuesday from 10 am to 9 pm, Wednesday to Sunday & holidays from 10 am to 6 pm. It’s closed on Mondays.

Entrance is free.

Ps: Do you know the difference between Modern and Contemporary art? Modern art refers to a style created between 1920 and 1950. Contemporary art is related to a living kind of art, in constant change, thus very broad. That means Contemporary art borrows styles from different periods, but Modern does not, it’s one perpetual style.

Brazil, here I go!

Sao Paulo is huge, so there are many more museums to visit in the city. If you’re staying longer and want more tips, just drop your questions below and I can give some more advice.

So traveler, are you going to Sao Paulo and maybe other cities in Brazil too? What’s your itinerary?

And for those who have already been in the city: what do you think about Sao Paulo? How was your experience there? Would you add another museum to the list above? I’m really curious about your time in Brazil!

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