Is Inhotim the world’s best art museum?

Is Inhotim the world’s best art museum?


Contemporary artists are professional instigators.  Their art challenges the status quo and cultural  assumptions.  Since culture is localized to each country and region, contemporary art gives a glimpse into their daily life and struggles, things which a traveler may struggle to discover through any other means.  For this reason we’ve sought out contemporary art exhibitions while traveling the world.

In seeking out exhibits I’ve been especially drawn to installations that combine art and space to create experiences.  One such place that stood out from description alone was Brazil’s Inhotim which the Telegraph called a “Versailles for the 21st century”.   My hopes were high as my last visit to a meglomanic funded triumph over all things normal, Tasmania’s MONA, blew me away. Since the MONA was the best museum I’ve ever visited, Inhotim had a lot to live up to.  Let me show you how it did and why Inhotim is one of the world’s best contemporary art destinations.

Out-of-the-way is the only way to explain Inhotim’s location.  The benefit of the rural location outside Brazil’s third largest city is a space.  Instead of building a museum, the billionaire creator, Bernardo Paz, chose to build a collection of art installations surrounded by one of the world’s best botanical gardens.  City locations may have made it more accessible, but being able to do away with space constraint in this location makes it special.  From entrance to exit, the meticulous gardens are a joy to explore between seeing works from today’s hottest contemporary artists such as Matthew Barney and Yayoi Kusama.  Without the gardens it would be just another museum, instead of an amazing, all-day, experience.

The founder of Inhotim is fanatical about the gardens.  In fact, in this New York Times article he says he hasn’t even visited all the art installations, rather he’s in it for the gardens.  That explains why I found myself wondering if I was in a park for art or a park with art.  The 500 artworks are utterly dwarfed by the gardens.  Given that the man made billions from destroying the earth for minerals, it’s refreshing to read he actually cares for what’s on top of all those pricy metals.

Two main paths create a route around Inhotim that is roughly 5 miles (this place is huge!).  While you may be tempted to opt for the cart to carry you around, you’d miss the best part: the grounds.  The carts connect installations and art centers, but blow through what makes Inhotim special.  Give yourself time to wander and reward yourself with the many ice cream, coffee and snack shacks along the main paths.  Time spent walking is not lost time, it’s probably the best reason to make the trip.

There are several high-end restaurants complete with their own art and supposedly delicious meals at prices you’d expect in an art museum (read: it’s fancy food).  Even so, once the hotels open on-site I’d consider making an overnight stay to enjoy the gardens, restaurants and performances.

If the outdoors wasn’t modern or artsy enough for you there is a giant kaleidoscope that will warp your view.  It is among many unexpected things I encountered along the way that I’m sure you’ll enjoy.

Was it worth the trip?  Absolutely.  I would recommend anyone visiting Ouro Preto or Belo Horizonte to make the trip.  While it’s location is out-of-the-way it is actually easy to get to by bus from Belo Horizonte’s central bus terminal.  Trust me, it is one of the best parks/museums/places in all of Brazil.



-FREE TUESDAYS! There is nothing like free…is there?  Save the $10-14 USD per person by visiting on a Tuesday.

-BRING WALKING SHOES. Even if you choose to ride the carts there is a considerable amount of walking.  Bring something you’ll be comfortable in walking all day.

-TAKE THE BUS. It’s easy to get to/from Inhotim on the bus from Belo Horizonte.  Given it’s remote location it’s by far the easiest and cheapest way to get there.  The friendly people in the tourism booth at the center of Belo Horizonte’s bus terminal will point you in the right direction…in English!

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About the Author

thinkCHUA: Photographing and documenting the world on a 3 year round-the-world trip to help future travelers discover new places, travel longer and enjoy the world's great experiences.

About the Author
thinkCHUA: Photographing and documenting the world on a 3 year round-the-world trip to help future travelers discover new places, travel longer and enjoy the world's great experiences.


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