In the past few years, Rio de Janeiro has been covered in the media in regards to protests, massive urban development, and spending in anticipation of the 2016 Summer Olympics, particularly in contrast to the neglect of many socioeconomic disparity and urban problems. Many artists in the region—including collectives like Cachorro Vinagre and Mídia NINJA—have stepped up to address the situations that haven't been addressed by the state, much like the city's infrastructure in terms of art and museums, which is dominated by the private sector or is reliant on private collections and investments.
The Museu de Arte do Rio (MAR) is a great place to begin witnessing both historical and contemporary art production. MAR is broken up into two sections: one for exhibitions and the other for education, working towards the latter with the city's department of education and other education department branches. The museum's collection and exhibitions draws from both historical and contemporary art, with a focus on Brazilian artists. Highlights from the collection and exhibitions include works by Louise Bourgeois, Anna Maria Maiolino, and Rosana Paulino, amongst others.
Established in 1948, the Museum of Modern Art of Rio de Janeiro defines itself as an art centre and includes a school for art and theater in addition to exhibition halls. Like the unfortunate 2018 fire at the National Museum of Brazil, with its collection of more than 20 million historical objects, most of the collection (Pablo Picasso, Max Ernst, René Magritte) was lost to a 1978 fire. Its remaining impressive collection includes works by Latin American and international artists and is broken up into three sections: the museum's original collection, revamped through donations and acquisitions; the loaned Gilberto Chateaubriand collection, focusing on Brazilian art from the emergence of modernism in Brazil to contemporary works; and the Joaquim Paiva collection, which is exclusively comprised of photography. Its current collection's international highlights include Constantin Brancusi, Alberto Giacometti, and Keith Haring.
For the architecturally minded, the Niterói Contemporary Art Museum is housed in a structure designed by leading Modernist architect Oscar Niemeyer in 1996. Best known for its panoramic views, the museum also has an impressive schedule of programming, with exhibitions that feature Isaac Julien, Joseph Beuys, and more, in addition to the João Sattamini collection, which is one of the key collections of contemporary art in Brazil, with highlights including Aluísio Carvão, Dionísio Del Santo, Lygia Clark, and Ione Saldanha. For even more contemporary-focused spaces, visit galleries such as Anita Schwartz Art Gallery and Galeria Nara Roesler, or ArtRio: the city's leading art fair with a primary focus on participants and artists from Brazil.