ISSN 2330-717X

Brazil: In Ouro Preto, New Boulieu Museum Boasts International Baroque Archive


By Alana Gandra


Visitors passing near the entrance to the historic city of Ouro Preto, Minas Gerais state, will come across the new Boulieu Museum, which houses the collection of the couple after whom the institution is named. Occupying the facilities of the former São Vicente de Paulo home, the museum was inaugurated Thursday (Apr. 14).

The collection, donated by the couple Jacques and Maria Helena Boulieu, predominantly includes works of Asian and Latin American origin, especially from the Baroque period. “[It chiefly concerns] what we call the diaspora of the Iberian Baroque to Asia and Latin America. It’s a rare museum in Brazil, as its collection is international rather than Brazilian. It plays an important role, as it is located in Ouro Preto and brings into context what we see as a universal phenomenon,” said Nando Almeida, director-president of the Pedra Institute, in charge of the project’s museography and restoration.


Featuring 1,050 of the 2,500 pieces of the Boulieu Collection, the exhibition was curated by Angelo Oswaldo, before he became mayor of Ouro Preto. The remaining pieces will be displayed in temporary exhibitions. “The pieces on display will be replaced progressively. That’s the idea, to constantly bring new attractions to the public,” he declared.

The museum is managed by the Boulieu Institute, created for this purpose in 2008.

In the lobby, visitors have a chance to learn about the history of the Boulieu couple and how the collection came together. On the upper floor, guests are welcomed with poems by Fernando Pessoa and Luiz de Camões, sung by Brazilian star Maria Bethânia.


The public is taken on a journey through the new road to the Indies, through the East, and then to America and Brazil, Almeida noted. “It gets to people’s souls and finds civilizations that interact with the European Baroque, creating something else. There, with new materials and new iconography, the Western world meets and culturally dialogues with the local traditions, which are millennia old.”

In Nando Almeida’s view, the most interesting aspect the museum offers the public is a look outside of Brazil, in a bid to understand the process as something that took place the world over. “The Brazilian baroque, for example, is not the same as the Baroque from Portugal. The Baroque of the Andean highlands has nothing to do with the Spanish baroque. It has its own magnitude, which came about following the encounter of various cultures.”

The house

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the restoration of the building for the museum took four years to be completed, and was carried out by the Pedra Institute, a non-profit cultural heritage organization.

The project was sponsored by the Vale Cultural Institute, maintained by mining giant Vale, which invested approximately BRL 8 million by means of Brazil’s Cultural Incentive Law, commonly referred to the Rouanet Law.

The house occupies an area of nearly 400m², with exhibitions on the upper floor, comprising six rooms. The ground floor consists of an entrance hall, the box office, a café-shop, a multipurpose room, an educational room, administrative spaces, and a storage room.


Agência Brasil (ABr) is the national public news agency, run by the Brazilian government. It is a part of the public media corporation Empresa Brasil de Comunicação (EBC), created in 2007 to unite two government media enterprises Radiobrás and TVE (Televisão Educativa).

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