6 Best Museums to Visit in Rio de Janeiro

A girl standing at a balcony in the Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil.

We all know that Rio de Janeiro, Brazil has a reputation for beaches. Maybe you’ve heard about the Sugarloaf Mountain and the Cristo Redentor statue, a.k.a the Jesus statue. But did you know that Rio de Janeiro is one the best cities for museum lovers too? Whether you’re looking for a way to learn more about Brazilian culture, you’re a fan of art, or are just in need of some rainy day activities to do in Rio, here are the best museums to visit in Rio de Janeiro.

(Save this post for later here!)

Museum of Tomorrow (Museu do Amanhã)

Although I’m not a big science buff, the Museum of Tomorrow was the museum I headed straight to my first time in Rio, and I was not disappointed! Essentially, its focus is on both the potential opportunities and challenges of the coming decades from a sustainability perspective. It has lots of interactive and immersive exhibits, and if my memory serves me correctly, English information was available for everything apart from one video exhibit. I would plan to spend an hour or two here. It’s also in a really uniquely designed building in Downtown Rio.

Best for: Science and technology lovers, those who love interactive exhibits and/or appreciate cool architecture

Hours: The Museum is open from Tuesdays to Sundays, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and is closed on Mondays.

Price: R$ 30 or $5.49 USD at the time of writing (July 2024)

Address: Praça Mauá, 1 – Centro, Rio de Janeiro

Website: https://museudoamanha.org.br/en 

Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil (CCBB)

This cultural center is one of the most visited cultural institutions in the world, and it’s more than worth a visit! It’s in a gorgeous building in Downtown Rio. I’ve visited three or so times at this point, and each time the exhibits have been interesting and unique. Some focus on Brazil, but there have also been international artists and cultural exhibitions here. Plan to spend around an hour or so here!

Best for: Those interested in art and culture and on a budget!

Hours: The museum is open Wednesday through Monday, from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. It’s closed on Tuesdays.

Price: Free!

Address: Rua Primeiro de Março, 66 – Centro, Rio de Janeiro

Website: https://ccbb.com.br/rio-de-janeiro/ 

Rio Museum of Art (Museu De Arte Do Rio)

Right next to the Museum of Tomorrow, this art museum has two buildings, and a number of interesting exhibitions largely focused on Brazilian art and culture. You can find both classic and modern art here — I found that there weren’t many descriptions or explanations available in English, but that didn’t prevent me from enjoying my time there. 

Best for: Art lovers, those interested in Brazilian culture

Hours: The museum is open Tuesdays through Sundays (and closed on Mondays) from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. 

Price: R $20 or $3.44 USD Wednesday to Sunday, free on Tuesdays

Address: Praça Mauá, 5 – Saúde, Rio de Janeiro

Website: https://museudeartedorio.org.br/ 

National History Museum (Museu Histórico Nacional)

Many consider the National History Museum to be one of the most important museums in Brazil. Not only does it boast an  impressive collection of items (over 170,000 items from Antiquity to present day), but the building itself has a history that traces back to the country’s beginnings. The Portuguese originally constructed it in the early 1600s to be a fortress, but it’s had numerous purposes over the years, including a prison for people who were enslaved, a space for weapons and ammunition, and by the mid-1800s, barracks for military troops. It continued to be a military area until 1908s. It officially reopened as a museum in 1922, and today houses everything from historic documents, currency, art, jewelry, toys, textiles and more. I haven’t made it to this museum yet (I did try though and sadly it was closed) but this is a must for my next trip to Rio!

Best for: history buffs, those looking to learn more about Brazil

Hours: Open Wednesdays through Sundays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (closed on Mondays and Tuesdays)

Price: The museum is currently free. 

Address: Praça Marechal Âncora S/N – Centro – Rio de Janeiro

Website: https://mhn.museus.gov.br/ 

Museum of Modern Art (Museu de Arte Moderna do Rio de Janeiro) – temporarily closed

This museum can be a bit hit-or-miss depending on its exhibits, but I personally enjoyed this one! It’s known for having one of the most significant collections of modern and contemporary art in Latin America, with over 16,000 pieces. One major plus of visiting is the area that it’s in. It’s in the Marina da Gloria neighborhood, and it’s right near Flamengo Park, meaning you’re in for a great view if you visit. 

→ At the time of writing (July 2024), the website states that its exhibitions are closed until November 2024. I will update this post when I hear differently! 

Best for: Lovers of modern and contemporary art, anyone looking for a beautiful area to walk around along with a museum visit

Hours: Currently closed 

Price: Free, but a suggested donation of R $20

Address: Avenida Infante Dom Henrique, 85 Parque do Flamengo – Glória, Rio de Janeiro 

Website: https://mam.rio/ 

A view of Rio de Janeiro, taken from Cristo Redentor

Museum of Fine Arts (Museu Nacional de Belas Artes) – temporarily closed

This is another culturally significant institution. Its collection of over 20,000 pieces includes Brazilian and international art from the Middle Ages to today. Although the museum officially opened in the 1930s, part of its collection stemmed from the century before, when a Portuguese king fled Portugal, bringing with him to Rio a significant collection of art, most of which remained even after his eventual return to Europe.

→  It’s been closed for a while due to construction so I haven’t been able to visit, and according to its website, it hasn’t reopened yet. I will check on it and update this post once it’s reopened!

Best for: Those who appreciate art of any kind — this museum is known for its wide diversity of art forms and origins.

Hours: Temporarily closed

Price: Unknown

Address: Av. Rio Branco, 199 – Centro, Rio de Janeiro

Website: https://www.gov.br/museus/pt-br/museus-ibram/mnba

A view of Ipanema Beach in Rio de Janeiro
Ipanema Beach

There’s so much to explore in this city, and I hope that you make it to at least one or two of these best museums to visit in Rio de Janeiro on your next visit! Which of these museums will you be heading to first? Let me know in the comments. And before your trip to Rio, definitely check out some of my other posts that will help you plan your dream trip.

– Tess <3

P.S. If you’re looking for another amazing art museum with an equally amazing view, consider taking a day trip to Niterói, a city right outside of Rio de Janeiro, and home to the Niterói Contemporary Art Museum. Check out more here!

Disclosure: Some of the included links may be affiliate links, meaning that at no cost to you, I earn a commission if you make a purchase. I recommend only products and companies I trust and have used. Thanks for your support!

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12 Comments

  1. July 6, 2024 / 8:16 pm

    A good directory of places to explore in Rio! I’d love to hear more about your opinion of each one. Pinned for a future trip!

    • Tess
      Author
      July 7, 2024 / 10:59 pm

      Thanks for reading, Vanessa! I loved all the ones I visited, and they were all worth visiting, but it’s hard for me to dislike a museum honestly haha. (And I’ve heard great things about all, including the 2 I still have to visit!)

  2. Rhonda
    July 6, 2024 / 8:33 pm

    I tried to go to Museum of Tomorrow but I got there too late but I did go to the Museum of Art. Next time I’m in Rio, I will have to check these other museums out.

    • Tess
      Author
      July 7, 2024 / 10:55 pm

      oh no, I’m sorry to hear that! I hope you enjoyed the art museum though!

  3. Meghan
    July 6, 2024 / 9:18 pm

    Rio has been on my list for so long! I love the architecture at these museums. Looks beautiful while also being historical. Perfect combo!

    • Tess
      Author
      July 7, 2024 / 10:55 pm

      agreed!! hope you’re able to make it there soon 🙂

  4. Sonia
    July 6, 2024 / 10:06 pm

    The Museum of Tomorrow looks like an interesting spot–hands on, with science and tech mixed in. Very different from most of the museums you see normally.

    • Tess
      Author
      July 7, 2024 / 10:54 pm

      Yeah I usually don’t go to science museums, but had heard amazing things about this one, and it was definitely worth it 🙂

  5. July 7, 2024 / 3:39 pm

    I must admit that we did not see as much as we wanted when we finally got to Rio. We had bad weather and I wish I knew about some of these great museums. They would have been perfect for rainy days! I like the variety in the museums.

    • Tess
      Author
      July 7, 2024 / 10:53 pm

      I hope you still enjoyed your time in Rio despite the weather! Unfortunately it does rain a lot there, so having some indoor places to visit definitely comes in handy!

  6. Katie
    July 8, 2024 / 12:54 pm

    Great post! Though I am also not a huge science person, the Museum of Tomorrow looks awesome! I love that there are interactive exhibits.

    • Tess
      Author
      July 8, 2024 / 4:15 pm

      Thanks, Katie! it was so much fun!

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