Earlier this month I paid a visit to the Museu Afro Brasil / AfroBrazil museum in São Paulo, a space which highlights the African perspective in the formation of heritage, identity and Brazilian culture. A space which celebrates an often untold memory and history of Brazilian and Afro-Brazilian Art.
About the Afro Brasil Museum, São Paulo
Situated in Ibirapuera Park, the Afro Brasil Museum is a public institution housing a collection of thousands of works produced between the fifteenth century and today, including; paintings, sculptures, engravings, photographs, documents and ethnological pieces, written by Brazilian and foreign authors. The collection encompasses several artefacts of the African and Afro-Brazilian culture, addressing themes such as religion, art, the African diaspora and the Trans-Atlantic slave trade. The museum also offers various cultural and educational activities, temporary exhibitions, a theatre and a specialised library.
The Afro Brasil museum was born on the initiative of Emanoel Araújo (Emanoel Alves de Araújo), the museum’s curator director; a sculptor, draftsman, illustrator, costume designer, engraver, set designer, painter, curator and museologist.
Afro-Brazilian history – is Brazilian History… So why don’t many black people know about it?
Despite being such a significant landmark for black culture and it’s accessibility to the public via São Paulo’s largest and most famous park, I was surprised to learn not every Brazilian is aware of the Afro Brasil museum, and this became apparent when I decided to take the challenge of going to the museum by public transport. The bus conductor looked at me baffled when I asked for the stop of the Afro Brasil Museu, ironically a similar expression my best friend Kinho gave me when I told him about my visit the the museum later that day… He was baffled as he’d never heard of the museum!
Throwback to my visit in 2013
I remember my first visit 5 years ago during a research trip on my Tabom heritage (AfroBrazilian returnees to Ghana, then The GoldCoast, in the mid 1830’s) and feeling slightly frustrated that there wasn’t any information on a community close to 200 years old. I did however learn a lot about the Tabom’s more researched cousins, the Agudas who were Afro-Brazilian returnees to Nigeria and Benin. So I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the lives of some prominent Taboms in Accra and Agudas in Lagos in the mid to late 1800s/early 1900s lead almost parallel lives – a middle class lifestyle given to them by the British which afforded them the privilege to study and work within the British Empire. You can find out more about my research on my Facebook page Kai Li’s Tabom Project.
I also have some blog posts I wrote on this subject in 2013 during my 3 month stay in Brazil. Click Here for the articles.
I was lucky enough to have a chance meeting and introduction to the museum’s director Emanoel Araújo, thanks to Sidney, my friend working in the museum’s education department who offered to give me a tour. Sidney introduced me as a Tabom descendant, and Araújo responded, admittedly, that there hasn’t been much research done on the Tabom. I’m hoping to rectify this with my creative contribution through visual arts and dialogue via social media. I’m also in the process of proposing to screen Juan Diego Diaz’s “Tabom in Bahia” at the museum as a starting point to open a dialogue about the Tabom people and eventually have a permanent space dedicated to the Tabom at the museum, as the Agudas have.
If you’re in São Paulo or have the opportunity to pass through during a visit to Brazil – put the AfroBrasil museum on your to-visit list! It will enrich your understanding of Brazil’s complex yet rich history and the contribution of Afro-Brazilians in shaping the Brazil the world continues to love.
Address and phone number:
Av. Pedro Álvares Cabral Gate 10
Parque Ibirapuera Zip Code: 04094 050 São Paulo – Brazil – Access through the gate 03
Phone: 55 11 3320 8900
Hours of Operation :
From Tuesday to Sunday, from 10am to 5pm,
with a stay until 6pm.
For more info on exhibitions and tours visit the website http://www.museuafrobrasil.org.br
Info sourced from www.museuafrobrasil.org.br
Got any thoughts on this post? Share in the comment box below!