“Look! A Banana!”
“I’m sorry, Mark, but it’s definitely an eye.”
“But it’s yellow…”
“Okay, but it’s an eye.”
We were afraid we wouldn’t find the museum and that we would get lost in Curitiba’s maze of administrative buildings—Fórum Cível, Prefeitura Municipal de Curitiba, Palácio Iguaçu… Turned out that it would have been hard to miss it. Brazilians are fairly litteral: when they nickname a museum the “Museu do Olho”—the “Eye Museum”—it actually looks like a giant eye.
This is our third time in Curitiba but we have yet to visit the sights. Unlike in most cities, Curitiba’s cultural and touristic landmarks are outside the historical centre, all around the city. It’s a bit of a walk to get to each of them and it’s hard to walk from one to the other.
The Museu Oscar Niemeyer was at the top of our “come on, let’s visit it” list. I’ve seen buildings designed by Oscar Niemeyer before but this one looked unique, plus there was an entire museum to explore.
We stood there, admiring the bold and unusual design. The main structure was above a pool of water and is connected to the main museum building by an tunnel. The glass façade of the diamond-shaped eye was reflecting the clear blue sky and the fluffy white clouds. Modern, yet attractive. I liked it.
“Looks pretty cool.”
“How much do you think tickets are?”
I was already pulling out thirty reais out of my bag but the cashier stopped me. “É quarta-feira. ” Oh, so entry is free on Wednesday? Even better! We were on a roll.
We started the visit at level one with various exhibitions dedicated to the Alfredo Andersen and his followers, the colourful art of Gonçalo Ivo, portraits of famous people of Curitiba… What stroke me the most was the building itself, designed by Oscar Niemeyer—a true alliance of architecture and art, that let the light in and where walking around felt completely natural. I visited museum where the art displayed is amazing but the rooms feel stuffy, old, where you have to squint to see the paintings. It has its charm, I guess, but I like light and large, airy structures. Colours pop out, the visit flow is natural.
Finally, we took the tunnel to go up inside the eye. The atmosphere was very different. It was dark and cold, as is we were actually inside a human organ. Various artworks were gathered, including sculptures, paintings and installations. It felt like being at the heart of the creative process, inside an artist studio.
It took me a minute or so to get used to the natural light again when we left the eye. Outside, the sun was still shining, the sky was still blue, the light almost blinding.
I’m still amazed by the career of Niemeyer, such a prolific architect with bold projects. I wonder how it feels to leave such a tangible legacy behind, buildings that people around the world see and use every day.