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Stretched across half a block off prime Copacabana beach front, the nightclub Help once attracted Rio’s the glittering butterflies and brutes of Rio’s salubrious underbelly like moths to a flame.  As Rio began to smarten up its act, the club was closed and rumours ran rife as to what possibly could, and would, take its place.  This week Carioca’s were able to glimpse the first signs of an innovative new museum, scheduled to open mid 2013, that marks a shift in the city’s cultural credentials.  As vibrant and alive with cultural heritage as the city itself and its music halls maybe, Rio’s museums have so far lagged far behind the world’s big players.  Inspired by the cultural buzz in the air, we pick our favourite places to go for a cultural fix in Brazil, and crucially, the ones to keep an eye out for.

Inhotim, Minas Gerais. Imagine an enormous botanical garden, 100 hectares of verdant forest home to 200 species of animals and 181 plants.  Now imagine that amongst the trees you find pieces by 500 of the world’s top artists and you will begin to understand Inhotim, a museum under the sky where racing down the corridors is not an option.   First visualized by entrepreneur Bernado Paz in 1980, the design began to take shape when Robert Burle Marx , the landscape artist and talent behind Copacabana’s iconic pavements, paid a visit 4 years later. Since then it has grown into one of the world’s most innovative and unique art museums, regularly hosting courses for the world’s top artistic minds and curators.  The museum is in constant evolution, set to expand this year to include two more pavilions and a pousada designed by Brazilian architect Freuza Zechmeister.

Parque Ibirapuera, Sao Paulo.  Sao Paulo’s version of Central Park is where fashionistas swap sipping cocktails in chic nightspots for hard core work outs and is one of the only islands of green in a city synonymous with gridlock traffic and moguls in helicopters.  Designed by Oscar Niemeyer in 1951, the park is also a showcase for his architectural genius, so you can admire his work first hand while visiting some of the city’s top museums based in the grounds. Along with the Museum of Modern Art, stroll along to the Japanese Pavilion, Museum of Afro Brasilian culture, Museum of Contemporary Art and Planetarium.  The park also plays host to the Sao Paulo Biennale every two years, where you will once again find the fashionista with cocktails.

To Watch Out For…

Casa Daros, Rio de Janeiro. Set to open its doors in October of 2012 after a 7 year wait, Casa Daros will redefine the art market in Latin America. The historic house located in Rio’s Botafogo district is being painstakingly restored to its original belle-époque glory and will provide a platform for dialogue between Latin America’s most important artists, as well as a place to showcase the sort of ground-breaking exhibitions which have always previously been curated in Europe or the US.  The sister establishment of the Daros Institute in Zurich, itself a pioneer in building appreciation for Latin American art abroad and home to the largest collection in Europe, Casa Daros is set for great things.

Museum do Imagem e Som (MIS), Rio de Janeiro. While Brasilia may have pinched the political power back in the 60’s, and Sao Paulo the economic importance, Rio still holds the crown for the artistic and cultural centre of Brazil. Which is why museums such as the MIS (Museum of Image and Sound) play such an important part in keeping this cultural heritage alive and inspiring the next generation of artists.  MIS is scheduled to open mid 2013 and is located right on the beach-front of Copacabana where the legendary nightclub Help once was.  The museum will use the latest modern technology to enable the public to interact in innovative ways with the institute’s artistic archive, dating back to 1965 and relive Rio’s artistic cultural heritage. As much a museum of ‘fun’ as of research (we wouldn’t expect anything less from Rio) highlights will include a beach front kiosk, basement nightclub and a rooftop open air cinema with view across the bay.

To experience Brazil’s culture through the eyes of the experts, contact Dehouche to plan a tailor-made cultural journey that will have you meeting the curators and artists who are shaping the cultural agenda.

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