Friday, November 27, 2009

Museu Oscar Niemeyer

Kim and I have been in Curitiba, Brazil, since the beginning of November when we arrived to adopt our four beautiful children (visit our other blog, Perfect Provision, for details about this adventure). We have enjoyed a number of sites around the city during the month we have been here, but today was especially exciting for me as we went to the Museu Oscar Niemeyer, an art museum designed by and named in honor of Brazil's most famous architect. This was sort of an early birthday present for me, as my birthday is next week, and Kim was gracious enough to let me pick out my own birthday present from the museum store, a few books on Niemeyer that are only in Portuguese and not available in the United States!

If you know me personally or if you have read past entries on this blog, you are probably already aware that I am a big Niemeyer fan. Of course I was most excited to come to Brazil to meet my children, but a close second was the opportunity to see a few of Niemeyer's buildings in person. The Museu is Niemeyer's only work here in Curitiba, but I hope to have the opportunity to see a number of additional projects when we are in Rio de Janeiro for a week in December before returning home to the United States (don't worry, it's not all play--the kids have to pick up their visas from the US Consulate there). I even have this silly notion that I could meet Oscar Niemeyer himself while we are there, though I do not quite know how I am going to arrange this. He will be 102 years old in December, the last great living Modernist!

The Museu Oscar Niemeyer is also known as the "olho," or "eye." Just look at the pictures to see why! This distinctive piece of architecture was added by Niemeyer in the early 2000s to an 1960s era building, also by Niemeyer. The whole complex together is pretty impressive and features a number of Niemeyer trademarks, including the use of interesting geometric figures, reflecting pools, sinuous ramps, and artistic tile work (a Portuguese and Brazilian tradition).

Visitors to the museum first enter into the original building and tour the exhibits there. In the basement of that building, there is a tunnel that leads under the reflecting pool to the base of the eye. Elevators and stairs take the visitor up to the exhibition level, which is one huge, arced space. Unfortunately due to the exhibit inside, the eye had blackout shades installed, so it was really pretty dark. The ceiling was interesting though, made up of thousands and thousands of little metal rectangles. I really wish we could have seen the space in natural light because there is also an interesting sunshading screen along the glass faces of the eye.

As you might imagine, it is hard to find time to write a blog when four kids are keeping me busy enough! I have already written too much when I should be sleeping, so for now, I'll just let the pictures do the rest of the talking. Enjoy!