Maré Museum

De Dicionário de Favelas Marielle Franco

Tradução: Jamille

Revisão Final: André Rezende Broseghini

Autor: Antonio Carlos Pinho Vieira

The beginning

In 1996, a group of residents from the Favela da Maré gathered to reflect about an alternative political, cultural and pedagogical project to be developed in the area, but with a broad impact and coverage, thinking about the city from a local perspective. In August 1997, these locals created a non-governmental organisation named Centro de Estudos e Ações Solidárias da Maré (CEASM - Maré’s Center for Studies and Solidary Actions). Since then, the CEASM has been acting in order to build collective memories around the neighborhood as a strategy to build a sense of belonging and to create  democratic alternatives to the social reality.

One of the first projects developed by the CEASM was the Rede Memória da Maré [lit. Maré’s Memory Network], which aimed to preserve the local history and contribute to creating the sense of belonging of the local residents. The project produced an illustrated text about the history of Maré. Its author, Antônio Carlos Pinto Vieira, is one of the founders of CEASM. The text organizes chronologically the historical facts that occurred in the area and in the city, from the colonial period until the end of 1990. Therefore, Antônio Carlos wrote the first version of the history of Maré and, mostly, developed a common identity between the many communities that were formed throughout Avenida Brasil (an expressway that connects Rio’s Northeast and Northwest areas) from the decade of 1940 onward.

The text about the history of Maré composes a collection of files created by Rede Memória with the aim to protect many sources about local history: photographs, maps, publications, documents produced by the public power, private documents donated by local residents, academic papers, etc.

Since its inauguration on April 27, 2002, the Dona Orosina Vieira file (ADOV) has received many online visitors. Some, to get to know the place, others to see old photographs to remember the old times, and several to research. A great deal of the research is performed by teachers and students from local public schools and by members of other projects of CEASM. The file records include a considerable number of searches made by researchers connected to many institutions of the city, such as UNIRIO, UFRJ FIOCRUZ and many others.

Most parts of the ADOV collection are photographs that portray many aspects of the local reality, including images from the beginning of the twentieth century, taken by the well-known photographer Augusto Malta. This iconographic compilation was, in part, reproduced and expanded to compose several exhibitions on the history of Maré. The exhibitions are displayed in public spaces, such as schools and squares. Rede Memória also executed expositions in places outside of Maré, like in the Institute of Architects of Brazil (IAB-RJ); UFRJ’s Philosophy and Social Sciences Institute; UFF’s Education Institute; the Contemporary Art Museum (MAC); and the State Court of Auditors’s Cultural Center, among many others.

The work of Rede Memória obtained national recognition in 2005, when it received the Rodrigo Melo Franco de Andrade award, given by the National Institute of Historic and Artistic Heritage (IPHAN). The award is given to people or institutions that develop preservation actions of the Brazilian cultural legacy. IPHAN selected seven initiatives around the country, with Rede Memória winning in the category of protection of assets of immaterial nature.

Previously, in 2004, Rede Memória put together an exhibition called A Força da Maré (Maré’s Strength - or Tidal Strength, given that Maré means Tide), at the Museum of the Republic, located in the Catete neighborhood. To assemble the exposition, the staff of Rede Memória borrowed some objects from residents. At the end of the exhibition, no one accepted their belongings back, because they wanted to see in Maré what was made in Museus da República.

A Força da Maré was a turning point in the work developed by Rede Memória. Still in the end of 2004, the staff of the project was involved in the first public notice of the Viva Cultural Program, from the Ministério da Cultura (MINC), which would select new Culture Spots. The project was selected with the title Museu da Maré (Maré Museum) and expected to install a long-term exposition about the lives of people who resisted and fought to build their history in that place. Since that moment, Rede Memória ceased and became the Maré Museum.

The inauguration of the museum occured on May 8, 2006, during the 4th National Museum Week. The event had the presence of the then minister of culture Gilberto Gil and other members of MINC, besides agents of many museums and Cultural Spots in the city of Rio.

Upon its inauguration, the Maré Museum competed in the first edition of the Cultura Viva award, offered by MINC. Among 1,532 initiatives registered throughout Brazil, the museum was one of the 30 semifinalists, getting second place in the Sociocultural Technology  category.

In November of the same year, the museum was blessed with the Ordem do Mérito Cultural (Order of Cultural Merit) award, the country’s highest premiation of culture, which has the objective to make public the performance of people and institutions that, in a meaningful way, work towards appreciation of Brazilian culture. In December, the museum was honored by IPHAN’s Department of Museums and Cultural Centers for the contribution to the museums and to Brazilian museology in the National Musem Year as a one of the inspirational experiences of the new national policy for museums.

The operation: educational actions and social transformation

The museum was built with an archive, library, technical reserve, long-term exposition, gallery for temporary expositions, laboratory for preservation and restoration, administrative area, and other spaces. Besides, the museum provides the community with cultural workshops, which work with several artistic languages and assist more than 300 people from different age groups.

Through its 13 years of experience, the museum has become a source of inspiration for many other initiatives, which has motivated the creation of the program Pontos de Memória [lit. Memory Spots], developed by the Brazilian Institute of Museums (IBRAM). Today, this initiative has national scope and has a public notice  just for Cultural Spots that work with memory.

The Maré Museum is one of the founding initiatives of Rio’s Social Museology Network, a collective that gather more than 60 experiences in the field of social museology that are committed to the preservation and the dissemination of popular memories, including the patrimony of the favelas,  the Baixada Fluminense region, and Rio’s West Zone and countryside.

Considering all these points, the Maré Museum established itself as an international and national reference, contributing to a more positive view of Brazilian culture and museology and inspiring many others processes in Brazil and abroad. The experience of the Maré Museum was crucial to the 23rd General Conference of the International Council of Museums - ICOM, based in the city of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in August 2013. The recognition of the work realized by Maré Museum was essential for several instances of the public power to invest resources in maintaining and developing their programs, projects and actions.

As an international experience, the Maré Museum, in 2011, set an exchange program with the District Six Museum, of South Africa, with the execution of workshops and lectures that occured in Cape Town. In 2012, on a visit to Colombia, we participated in seminars in Externado University de Colombia and in the Historic Memory Meeting in the city of Santa Marta. In 2014 the Maré Museum performed a series of workshops in the cities of Amsterdam and Rotterdam, with Dutch institutions like the Museum Rotterdam, Imagine C' and Cosmopolis. In 2015 the museum was invited to participate in the meeting of Oaxaca’s Communitary Museum Union, in Mexico, where we conducted a lecture, and in the same year we took part as keynote speakers in  the United Kingdom’s Museum Association annual meeting, in the city of Cardiff, where we delivered an opening speech called "Museums change lives", a participation articulated with the British Council. In the year of 2017, the Museum was invited to participate in a cultural programme of 15 days in Maputo, the capital of Mozambique, as one of experiences that inspired the creation of the Mafalala Museum, in a neighborhood from the outskirts of the city.

The Maré Museum is an initiative of local residents and, at the same time, is a result of the interaction of social  agents, which guarantees its plurality. Therefore, the museum works towards overcoming the stigmas related to favelas and their residents, besides collaborating with the enlargement process of the perspective of the role of museums in the contemporary reality. The museum is not a place to keep objects or worship the past. It is a place of life, conflicts and conversations.

The long-term exposition of Maré Museum - Os Tempos da Maré [lit. The Times of Maré]- is the heart of the projects developed in that cultural space. In the exposition, past, present and future coexist in the “water times”, “house times”, “imigration times”, “work times”, “resistance times”, “party times”, among others. They are a total of 12 themes (or “times”) whose museology is built from the place and from life, always in dialogue with the cultural diversity existing in our country. In Maré, where the stigmatizing points of view can only see the absences, the museum s an invitation to dialogue, to the exchanges and to overcoming prejudices.

Since the opening, the Maré Museum has been developing educational actions, from their long-term exposition, aimed for a variety of audiences of local residents and non-residents, composed of children, teenagers, youngsters, adults and elderly.

At the beginning, educational actions were performed in a timely manner by the Elias José Youth’s Library team. The actions consisted in the realization of memory tea parties, reading circles with books such as Tales and Legends of Maré, and guided tours to the long-term exposition with the Stories of Maré group, a project of Maré storytellers developed by the library that uses the stories of the Tales and Legends book to conduct the visitors in a playfully way through the “times” of the exposition.

In April 2013, after the selection of the Maré Museum by the Petrobras Cultural Program, it was possible to invest in the formation of a team directed to work with the Educational Museum project, coordinating different actions that already have been developing  since its creation. Among these, the activities performed in the library, by the archive, cultural workshops, technical reserve, well… r all the museum projects are guided by the educational team.

One of the main actions of the team is related to the formation of the students of the second year of high school, with tennagers ranging between 15 and 18 years old. These youngsters are part of the Young Talent Program of FAPERJ (Rio de Janeiro’s Supporting Fund for Research) and receive a monthly scholarship of R$ 220,00 (In 2013: approximately $100; in 2021, $40).  

The program started in the museum in 2008, due to partnership with the FAPERJ and the professors of UNIRIO, UFRRJ and  UERJ. Each class is composed on average of 8 scholarship holders, who remain in the museum for 18 months and receive a practical and theoretical formation in the area of museology, memory, history, literature, files and mediation .

The Maré Museum wasn’t created to be a “tiny slum museum”, to hold people in their ghetto, worship their low-value memories and objects. Its origin, as was mentioned before, comes from the residents' desire to establish a dialogue with people from several places and with different knowledges. Since the beginning, the dialogue, the appreciation of diversity, and the exchange of knowledge and practices have consolidated all the actions carried by the social agents that work in the project.    

Therefore, the educational project of the museum is not restricted to debating local questions, but it sets bridges of communication  with many realities and, for this reason, can be replicated in other spaces out of Maré, like museums and schools. This is the reason for the continuity of the Maré Museum, thrilling and teasing people and institutions of several places, mixing knowledges and practices, and collaborating with the construction of new perspectives on social change.  

References

CENTRO DE ESTUDOS E AÇÕES SOLIDÁRIAS DA MARÉ (CEASM).  A Maré em dados:  Censo 2000.  Rio de Janeiro, 2003.

______________________.  Instituições do Bairro Maré:  dados gerais.  Rio de Janeiro, 2004.

CHAGAS, Mário. “Memória política e política de memória”. In ABREU, Regina; CHAGAS, Mário (orgs). Memória e Patrimônio: ensaios contemporâneos. Rio de Janeiro, DP&A, 2003.

SANTOS, Carlos Nelson Ferreira dos; SILVA, Maria Lais Pereira da.  O Morro do Timbau.  Relatório de pesquisa para o HABITAT/ONU.  Rio de Janeiro, 1983, mimeo.

SILVA, Cláudia Rose Ribeiro da.  Maré: a invenção de um bairro.  Dissertação (Mestrado em Bens Culturais e Projetos Sociais) – Programa de Pós Graduação em História Política e Bens Culturais, Fundação Getúlio Vargas, Rio de Janeiro, 2006.

VAZ, Lílian Fessler (coord.).História dos bairros da Maré: espaço, tempo e vida cotidiana no Complexo da Maré. UFRJ, Rio de Janeiro, 1994.

VIEIRA, Antônio Carlos Pinto. Histórico da Maré. Rio de Janeiro, CEASM, 1998, mimeo.

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  2. One of the first residents of Morro do Timbau, the oldest community in Maré. Mrs. Orosina was an immigrant, black woman, widow, midwife and a woman devoted to God.
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  4. The library, inaugurated in 09/04/2008, is a project of Museu da Maré that was part until 2018 of the Pleasure in Reading Program by the C&A Institute.
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  6. The book was released in 2003, was the work of collected stories by Rede Memória da Maré, who conducted research about oral history with elderly local residents. The residents' testimonies bring up cases, tales and legends, that were systematized by the youngers and the tennagers that work in the Textual Production of the Communication Center of the CEASM workshop.