Inhotim is an exuberant outdoor art museum with a tropical forest surrounding the whole thing.
In general, visitors coming to Brazil set their eyes on the exuberance of Rio, the idillic beaches of the Northeast, or the vibrant gastronomy and nightlife of São Paulo. Very few get the opportunity of knowing the vast continental-sized countryside. But should anyone decide to invest in a 1-hour flight from Rio or São Paulo, they could be rewarded not only the best contemporary art collection in the country, but also get to experience one the most beautiful jaw dropping places in Brazil.
Inhotim gets its name from the former owner, British engineer Mr. Tim – Nhô Tim, as locals called him. The farm was bought in the 80’s by local businessman Bernardo Paz, who started adding the areas around it to protect the vegetation – and the gardens designed by Burle Marx – from the growing real estate developments. Encouraged by his friend and artist Tunga, he started collecting contemporary art, and building different pavilions to house them. In 2006, the area of more than 20 square kilometers was open to the public, and more buildings and site-specific art pieces have been added since. Nowadays, Inhotim gets around 250 thousand visitors a year, it has 25 galleries/pavilions and over 500 artworks of artists from 30 different countries, such as Yayoi Kusama, Olafur Eliasson, Matthew Barney, Cildo Meireles, Adriana Varejão, Anish Kapoor, Steve McQueen, Helio Oiticica and Janet Cardiff.
The experience of visiting Inhotim is comparable to seeing Naoshima Island in Japan, only with exuberant tropical forest surrounding the whole thing. In the entrance you get a maps, and it’s like a treasure hunt in the woods. All the trails are signposted, but there’s so much to see that one can get past some of works. There are sculptures scattered around the gardens and galleries hidden in the vegetation. Doug Aitken’s Sonic Pavilion, for example, is almost a mile uphill away. Luckily there are golf carts going back and forth for people to take rides (as long as they pay for it, of course).
To see all the galleries, at least 2 days are required. The town of Brumadinho, where it sits, has developed because of the art center, and now there are various options of lodging, from small low budget BBs to nice and rustic resorts. A 5-star hotel inside the farm is on-the-go, but there’s no opening date announced.
Also, Inhotim is now a venue for exclusive events. On the 5th and 6th of November, music festival Meca is doing its second edition there. In 2015, the line-up included artists like AlunaGeorge, La Roux and Citizens!. This year, all the bands playing are Brazilian, and the headliner is MPB star Caetano Veloso. On the two days of the festival, besides the concerts there will be workshops and conferences, too. Tickets for Meca start at US$40.