Historical and Artistic Museum of Maranhão – Tourism Guide

Museu Histórico e Artístico do Maranhão
Museu Histórico e Artístico do Maranhão

Those who want to know the way of life of the wealthy families of São Luís of the past centuries, their customs, habits and curiosities cannot miss visiting the Historical and Artistic Museum of Maranhão.

Housed in a 19th-century manor house, the museum reconstructs the dwellings of a São Luís that was left in time.

With a rich collection of approximately 10,000 pieces, the museum was inaugurated on 28 July 1973, the date on which Maranhão’s accession to Brazilian Independence is celebrated.

In the house it is possible to keep in touch with a city that has long ceased to exist. “We set up the museum to give a sense of how families lived and lived at that time,” says Conceição Monteiro Ribeiro, who is responsible for the museology department.

Those who arrive at the manor house are immediately aware of the sumptuousness of the property.

Built with material brought from the Itapecuru Valley by farmer José Inácio Gomes de Sousa, who built the manor house in 1836, the house retains most of its original features.

“Of course, we had to adapt some rooms in which the administrative part of the museum operates, but the property is practically original,” Conceição Ribeiro is proud.

Video about the Historical and Artistic Museum of Maranhão

On the ground floor are the garden, entrance hall, shop, monitoring room and administrative headquarters, as well as the Apolônia Pinto Theatre.

On the upper floor, the 14 rooms include a living room, music room, bedrooms for the couple, girls and boys, as well as a kitchen and sewing room.

The access hall on the ground floor, used as a distribution point between the sectors of the manor and as a shelter for vehicles such as carriages and others, also houses the staircase to the reception rooms of the dwelling.

The U-shaped plan zoned the building into wings: the social wing, intended to receive visitors and less intimate people who could not or should not have access to the rest of the house; the intimate wing, comprising bedrooms and dressing rooms as well as the veranda, where meals were taken; and the service wing, comprising the kitchen, storerooms and alcoves.

This distribution was only on the first floor, since the ground floor was intended for the service and circulation of slaves, with the exception of the theatre, a differential of the property, where Arthur Azevedo rehearsed some of his plays.

The space was named Apolônia Pinto Theatre, in honour of the first lady of the Maranhão theatre. There is also a well on the site.

In 1857, Mr Alexandre Colares Moreira, one of the owners of the manor, bought the land next door and opened doors and windows to access it, transforming it into a beautiful garden. On the site, today, sculptures of Greek gods and a fountain that was removed from Avenida Silva Maia (Centre).

The Collection of the Historical and Artistic Museum of Maranhão

.Mostly made up of donations, the collection features curious pieces such as spittoons and the throne chair (used inside the bedroom, it is made of wood and performed the function of a toilet.

“The houses of yesteryear did not have internal bathrooms, so the throne chair was used by the masters during the night and, in the morning, the slaves threw away the excrement deposited in the potty,” explains Conceição Ribeiro.

In addition to these pieces, a rocking cradle, French, Portuguese and English porcelain, hand-cranked sewing machines, and a wealth of furniture from the first half of the 19th century catch the visitor’s eye.

In the living room, a wooden bookcase, a gift from the then president of Argentina Julio Roca, has rich drawings representing tourist attractions in São Luís and Buenos Aires, carved into the wood.

Visitors can also see the manuscripts of the second edition of “O Mulato”, by Aluísio de Azevedo and “Malazarte”, by Graça Aranha, among other rarities such as sheet music and a violin that belonged to the writer Dunshe de Abranches.

Tiles of diverse origin, porcelain, numismatic collection, glass, crystals, paintings, sculptures, engravings, Catholic sacred art, art of African origin and documentary collection are part of the museum’s collection.

To set up the space, the organisers were inspired by novels that relate the way of life of Maranhão families, such as “O Mulato”, by Aluísio de Azevedo. Some environments were created according to passages from the book, such as the kitchen.


Historical and Artistic Museum of Maranhão
Where: Rua do Sol, 302, Centre
Visitation: Tuesday to Sunday, from 9am to 6pm

São Luís do Maranhão and Northeast Tourism Guide

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