Favela museum given three months to vacate home

Rebecca Atkinson, 10.10.2014
Director tells MA conference he will fight to stay
A community museum in one of the largest favelas in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, has been given three months’ notice to vacate its current home, its director told delegates at the Museums Association conference in Cardiff.

Antônio Vieira, the director of Museu da Maré, said the museum cannot afford to buy the space so it is looking at alternatives to house the displays. But he added that it would rather stay.

“The company that owns the space wants it back, they want us to clean out the place in three months and give it back, as if people’s lives could be cleaned out like that,” he said. “There’s a big movement in the community and we’re in that fight at the moment. People are coming forward to help us fight and keep our home.”

The Museu da Maré was launched in May 2006 in an area of the city with a reputation for gang violence.

Vieira said: “I come from a place with a very different reality. There’s another Rio that is a city of conflict, violence, a city where the poorest are placed in spaces where they live in poverty. These places are called favelas.”

The Maré favela has a population of about 140,000 and historically was a squat for migrants to the city unable to find any other place to live.

Aware of the problems that the gang violence brought, the museum was set up to tackle negative perceptions of the favela and instill a sense of pride in young people by sharing the history of its early inhabitants and local stories of the people who lived there.

“When you talk about Museums Change Lives, that’s exactly what happened to me. I used to be ashamed to say I lived in a favela but... I went from shame to pride,” he said. 

“I realised that could happen in other people too. People think favelas are only violence, slums that need to be eradicated – I know it’s different. So we started a process with a lot of possibilities that ended with the construction of the museum.”

If you can help Antônio in his struggle to maintain the Museu da Maré, whether it is help with funding or messages of support from your museum, please email contato@museudamare.org.br.

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