When you arrive in Inhotim, you will be handed a map so you can pick your route and begin your quest. And there is much to see at this gigantic open-air contemporary art center, surrounded by 500,000 acres of botanical gardens in the Atlantic Forest of Brazil.
The sight of an igloo or a floating block of concrete, a labyrinth of mirrors camouflaged in a way that butterflies bash into it, or a kaleidoscopic telescope, is part of the experience of a world-class collection of over 1,300 works of art produced from 1960 until today.
A chauffeured golf cart will park by your side before you decide what to see first. You can choose to walk or to take a ride through lakes, valleys, forest areas, and gardens. Of Instituto Inhotim’s 500,000 acres of botanical gardens, about 100,000 are opened for visitation and ready to awe with an extensive collection of exotic and rare tropical species and numerous palm trees from all over the world. Away from the Brazilian urban setting, Inhotim allows time to contemplate and embrace contemporary art as one with the surrounding lush nature.
The interactive works of art are impressive and mesmerizing. There is a pavilion where every object is red and red is the experience. In another pavilion, inspired by artists Hélio Oiticica and Neville D’Almeida’s Cosmococa, visitors enter rooms where they’re promised to experience the feeling of being on cocaine. In one room, Jimi Hendrix plays guitar while a pillow fight brings in chaos; another room is filled with hammocks; in the end, there is a lit indoor pool. There are 23 pavilions and permanent galleries of artists from 30 different countries.
To some, the idea of building a gigantic museological complex, pavilions, and galleries with contemporary artwork on display in the open air in the middle of Brazil’s Atlantic Forest, might have sounded like a far-fetched, megalomaniac project. But to Brazilian billionaire Bernardo Paz, who planned out the construction of Instituto Inhotim in 2006, building one of the most daring, ambitious, and creative art museums in the world is not impossible.
Today, Instituto Inhotim is an active nonprofit when it comes to developing educational programs, providing access to cultural assets to the community, and improving the quality of life in the region. The long-term plan is to turn the place into a destination in itself. Spas and resorts are being planned, and there are new pavilions under construction and plans to organize film festivals and events to promote environmental awareness, cultural empowerment, and diversity.
In the future, Paz believes it will take about 12 days to fully take in this unique, unparalleled, sensorial, and aesthetic experience.
Know Before You Go
The museum does not open on Mondays. Some people end up buying multiple day passes to enjoy everything there is to see and experiment in Inhotim.