Arriving on the sightseeing bus, by foot or car, there is no way people cannot see the marvellous, yet extravagant and futuristic shape of the Oscar Niemeyer Museum. It totally breaks with Curitiba´s cold personality. Most of the Curitibanos (Curitiba´s citizens) know about the museum; however, a little percentage of the 2 million inhabitants have, indeed, been there to admire all the different kinds of contemporary art expressions from Brazilian and international artists.
Curitiba might be the least Brazilian of Brazil´s 26 capital cities. Neither the sound of the samba´s berimbau nor the spectacular beaches are around. People would often calle it “boring and without flavour at all”. I would say it is rather interesting, vibrant and particularly attractive. For that reason art is so important, and the Oscar Niemeyer Museum is considered one of the most significant places to visit while in Brazil.
Known as “The Eye” (O Olho), the Oscar Niemeyer Museum is a piece of art itself, and it is definitely a lesson on architectural design. The museum is 144.000 square meters, making it the largest museum in Latin America. The project, designed by Oscar Niemeyer, is actually a reformulation of the Castelo Branco building, planned by the same architect. It was inaugurated on July 8th, 2003, with the current name to honor its famous architect, who completed this project at 95 years old.
The museum is located in Curitiba´s Civic Centre, and its mission is to be an exhibition center of excellence, focusing on visual arts, architecture and design. For its magnificence, beauty and for the importance of the collection, it represents a cultural institution of national and international meaning. Furthermore, the Oscar Niemeyer Museum uses art as an instrument for education; therefore, aiming to overcome the simple concept of public service the museum provides for the active participation of visitors on a constant artistic learning process.
“It is not the right angle that attracts me, nor the straight line, hard and inflexible, created by man. What attracts me is the free and sensual curve — the curve that I find in the mountains of my country, in the sinuous course of its rivers, in the body of the beloved woman.” – Oscar Niemeyer
His buildings are characterized by being spacious and exposed, mixing volume and empty spaces, creating wonderful shapes and patterns, showing to the world that unconventional can be beautiful. He has been praised as one of the most prolific artists in the world, and one of the best architects of his generation. Not even his 104 years of age would stop him from, still, designing.
Oscar Niemeyer was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on the 15th December 1907. He graduated from the Escola Nacional de Belas Artes in Rio de Janeiro in 1934. At that time Oscar Niemeyer joined a team of Brazilian architects collaborating with Le Corbusier on a new Ministry of Education and Health in Rio de Janeiro. The architect gradually acquired his own style: the lightness of the curved forms created spaces that transformed the architectural scheme into something that was hitherto unknown; harmony, grace and elegance are the adjectives that are most appropriate to describe the work of Oscar Niemeyer.