Grassroot Media Making in the favelas
of Rio de Janeiro
Museum of Favela (MUF)
Museum of Favela (MUF) – Pavão, Pavãozinho and Cantagalo
The Museum of Favela (MUF) is a community-based civil society organization founded by cultural leaders living in Pavão, Pavãozinho and Cantagalo favelas. It constitutes the First Territorial Museum of Favelas in Brazil and in the World and the First Point of Memory in Brazil, two decorations given by the Brazilian Museum Institute (IBRAM) in 2009, for its concept of a Living Museum. MUF contains narratives of an important and unknown part of the history of the City of Rio de Janeiro and has 12 thousand hectares of area and a rich cultural collection and ways of life. It has a built heritage of more than 5,300 properties connected by an impressive maze of alleys and staircases. Its natural heritage reunites the Atlantic Forest and remarkable panoramic views among the most exuberant landscapes of the Marvellous City.
MUF aims to preserve the memory of the community, promoting the connection between residents and local culture. By dissolving the barriers between the favela and the asphalt, MUF intends to transform the hill into a tourist monument in Rio. Our current attractions are the Casas-Tela Circuit and the ecological trail.
Museum of Favela's Covid-19 Story
All Museu de Favela tours have been halted and this was our only source of income. This became a big problem for the Museum, because our personal and professional lives have been severely affected. All of us that worked for the museum were volunteers and the majority of us are self-employed.
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Museum of Favela (MUF) – Pavão, Pavãozinho and Cantagalo Cont’d
At the Museum of Favelas (MUF), we work to rescue and collect memories of our favela’s communities. The museum is a ‘living collection’ in which the residents themselves, especially the elderly, who are our information sources. We gather information on their life histories, we create our exhibitions using our houses as canvas and our art gallery is an open-air gallery that follows the itinerary of our favela’ streets.
Our open gallery displays graffiti and naive art that narrates the history of our community.We are all social and cultural entrepreneurs and we try to move away from the stereotype of ‘favelados’ or favela’s residents – it is not all about old samba and mulatto story!
We receive many international students that are coming to do research in our museum. Many students are working on their dissertations in the field of architecture, public policies and all kind of academic training.
We have multiple benefits: students are coming to volunteer and we are expanding the social museology. Our museum was born side by side with social museology and our exhibitions are curated in different ways of showing our heritage.
Visitors are discovering the differences between each favela and their own identity, their history, culture, residents’ memories and heritage. We are showing our visitors how each favela is unique and distinctive.
Museum of Favela’s Covid-19 Story Cont’d
Our volunteers had severe problems, lost members of their family and had health problems. For that reason, our work at the museum has been severely affected to the point in which I had to manage everything on my own.
We had no idea how we could help the community during this pandemic. We, as residents, also suffer. We also have needs. But thanks to the Museum’ networks that we have developed for the past 10 years, we were able to establish partnerships. Especially with an institution called ‘Changemakers’, from which we received resources to buy basic food kits and voucher for gas.