São Paulo has a thriving cultural scene that can be seen in its museums, craft fairs, graffiti, and artsy shops. São Paulo Museum of Art is at the forefront of this buzzing cultural environment. Known as MASP to locals, this fascinating museum houses an extensive collection of Brazilian and international art. This museum is equally as famous for its building as it is for the art collection housed inside.
The modern building
Designed by Italian architect Lina Bo Bardi, the bright concrete and glass building is one of the city's landmarks and is considered a symbol of modern architecture in Brazil. The museum building is designed like a container for art. It has an open floor plan and is suspended eight meters above the ground on four bright red pillars entwined with two huge beams. The unfinished surfaces and the industrial look of the building make a statement. The space under the construction is a used as a vibrant plaza. The contemporary approach continues inside the building where the artworks are displayed in free-standing glass easels. This innovative display and floor plan allows visitors to engage more with the art work instead of admiring them from afar as in traditional museums.
MASP houses more than ten thousand works of art originating from Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Americas, including paintings, sculptures, objects, photographs, videos, and pieces of clothing from various periods. The art collection at this museum is considered to be one of the largest in Southern Hemisphere. It is home to many well-known European masterpieces, such as Renoir's Pink and Blue, Monet's Boating on the River Epte, Vincent van Gogh's A Walk at Twilight, and Renaissance master Raphael's The Resurrection of Christ. Notable art from non-western cultures include the pair of Chinese warriors and the sculpture of the African divinity Exu. Brazilian art is obviously featured prominently with works of Maria Auxiliadora, Agostinho Batista de Freitas, Anita Malfatti, and Di Cavalcanti, among others.
More than a museum
MASP is more than just a museum. As a private, non-profit institution, it is famous for its pioneering role as a cultural center. It organizes an array of courses for art lovers and enthusiasts and also hosts seminars, workshops, and film screenings. The museum's current mission describes MASP as a diverse, inclusive, and plural museum, which has the mission to establish, in a critical and creative way, dialogues between past and present, cultures and territories, through the visual arts.