Collection Visits

The XXXI Symposium of the SIC includes visits to museums and collections including some of the most important collections of scientific instruments in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

National Museum, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro
National Historical Museum, Brazillian Institute of Museums
The Imperial Museum, Brazilian Museums Institute, Ministry of Culture
Valongo Observatory, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro

The National Museum

The National Museum /UFRJ was founded on June 6, 1818 by D. João VI, in order to promote cultural and economic progress in Brazil. Currently the Museum is part of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro and holds the largest collection of Natural History in Latin America.

The pieces that compose the exhibits open to the public are part of the 20 million items of scientific collections preserved and studied by the scientists of the Museum. The Palace of São Cristóvão still preserves elements remaining artistic and architectural features of the imperial period, identified in the gardens, facades and historical halls.

Situated in the southern part of the Quinta da Boa Vista, in the neighborhood of São Cristóvão, the Botanical Garden and the Central Library (with a collection of approximately 470,000 volumes, including books, rare books and periodicals from past centuries) make part of the structure of the National Museum. In the Palace, is located the Library Frances Keller, which has the most complete collection of anthropological literature in Brazil.

The Museum has a collection of scientific instruments from the Department of Geology and Paleontology that needs to be preserved. The objects, acquired between the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, may have participate in relevant research activities to the country, but their participation in this history needs to be built.

National Museum - UFRJ
Quinta da Boa Vista, São Cristóvão Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brazil - 20940-040
55 21 2562.6900

National Historical Museum

The National Historical Museum (Museu Histórico Nacional) was founded in 1922 on the initiative of Gustavo Barroso, who started forming the first collections, featuring pieces of furniture, arms and military decorations. The Ponta do Calabouço architectural complex and grounds, where the museum is housed in the centre of Rio de Janeiro, are very important to the history of Rio and Brazil. Built in the 16th century, they were used in the effort to occupy and maintain the land, playing host to a variety of military, port, religious and administrative functions connected to the presence of the Portuguese colonisers.

The initial fortifications were combined with the arsenal, where the artillery was to be stored – a set of armaments used to defend the city – and later, the war arsenal. In the early 1900s, the arsenal was transferred to Ponta do Caju, opening the way for the buildings to be adapted for their new function: to house the industrial exhibits for the International Exhibition of 1922. Upon the determination of President Epitácio Pessoa, the two exhibition halls would harbour the seeds of what would become the National Historical Museum. When the exhibition ended, the museum gradually took over the whole area.

The museum’s collection comprises 277,490 artefacts of different kinds. It has a priceless set of Asian art and objects inspired by the Orient, as well as a numismatic collection of coins, bank notes, vouchers, share certificates, postage stamps, policies, telephone cards and other pecuniary items, and a collection of military decorations, which is the biggest in Latin America. Linked to the origins of the institution itself, the collection of weaponry is one of the most comprehensive, giving an overview of the development of weapons in the 18th and 19th centuries. Finally, the science and technology collection contains 176 artefacts, the highlights of which are the telescopes, compasses, quadrants, scales, drawing instruments, and a set of clocks of different kinds. It also has 653 medical pieces, 311 communication artefacts, and nine items relating to mining.

National Historical Museum
Praça Marechal Âncora s/n°, Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brazil
55 21 2550.9269

The Imperial Museum

The Imperial Palace of Petrópolis was one of the homes of the Brazilian Imperial family. Built with the Emperor´s private resources during the period 1845-1862, the project was developed by Major Julius Friedrich Koeler and completed by well-known architects that had ties with the Imperial Academy of Fines Arts: Joaquim Cândido Guillobel, José Maria Jacinto Rebelo and Manuel Araújo Porto Alegre. The complex was enriched, during the 1850 decade, by the garden planned and executed by the landscape architect Jean-Baptiste Binot under the orientation of the young emperor.

With the establishment of the new “regime” and the consequent banishment of the imperial family, the building was occupied by two schools: Notre Dame de Sion (1893-1908) and then S. Vincent de Paul (1909-1939). The greater part of the furnishings and other artefacts were removed and sold. All this happened before the signing by President Getúlio Vargas on March 29 1940, of Decree-Law n. 2096 which created the Imperial Museum.

On March 16 1943 the Imperial Museum was inaugurated with a significant collection of objects relating to the Brazilian Imperial period. And during the last seven decades a very large number of documents, books and art objects, in total nearly 300 thousand items, thanks to the generosity of the many hundreds of donors, are now part of the museum.

The Imperial Museum is under the Brazilian Museums Institute which, in turn, is part of the Ministry of Culture.

Rua da Imperatriz, 220, Petrópolis / RJ Brazil - 25.610-320

Valongo Observatory

Valongo Observatory was founded in 1881 with the main mission of being used for teaching astronomy and geodesy to students of the polytechnic. The Observatory is an institute of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ), which until the 1950’s was called the Astronomical Observatory of the Polytechnic School of Rio de Janeiro. It stood on Santo Antonio hill until the 1920’s, when it was transferred to Valongo estate, on Conceição hill, both in the center of Rio.

The Collection of Science and Technology Objects from Valongo Observatory is a historical education and research collection consisting of scientific instruments, equipment and accessories manufactured in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. They were used in the practical lessons in astronomy, geodesy and topography.

The collection comprises some 300 objects, and covers the areas of astronomy, geodesy, topography, chemistry and photography. It can be divided into two groups based on how the instruments were used in the history of the institution.

One group consists of objects manufactured in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. They were mostly imported from Europe, with a few notable exceptions of objects manufactured in Brazil, such as the equatorial telescope manufactured by José Hermida Pazos. The other group consists of objects produced since the 1950’s. Most of these were manufactured by Carl Zeiss and acquired through an agreement between Brazil and the German Democratic Republic and the People’s Republic of Hungary.

Valongo Observatory - UFRJ
Ladeira Pedro Antônio, 43 - 20.080.090