Pure air, a landscape surrounded by mountains, good food and the pleasant citizens of Minas justify a trip to Belo Horizonte. But the capital of Minas Gerais has more in store, much more to offer visitors. Among the pleasant surprises is Liberdade Square Cultural Circuit, in the Central region.
The idea is to make use of the ancient state-owned buildings installed in the region to house museums, libraries and historical collections. This involves partnerships with the private enterprises.
Some of them, like the TIM UFMG Space of Knowledge, the Minas Metal Museum and Minas Vale Memorial are already in operation, with others in the implementation phase, like the Fiat Culture House, the Bank of Brazil Cultural Center and the Brazilian Man Museum.
On arrival at Liberdade Square, tourists feel that there the air is cleaner, fresher and smells of flowers. Well kept, the site appeals to an afternoon relaxing on the benches in the shade, with a privileged view of roses and cut grass.
There is even a bandstand, to complete the past setting. And elders sitting around and talking, couples going for walks with their children, students with their books under their arms, setting after-school dates. It is essential to stop for a while and feel the atmosphere, in peace.
A prominent point in the scenery: number 153 on the square attracts the attention, Niemeyer building, designed by the famous Brazilian architect. A residential building, it has 12 stories, with two apartments per floor. Full of curves, it brings to mind the famous Copan (in downtown São Paulo), though smaller.
Once you have relaxed, why not enjoy the attractions of the Circuit? Starting with TIM UFMG Space of Knowledge, inaugurated two years ago and focused on education and science, it is possible to visit the planetarium (after 1:00 pm) and to view exhibitions like Demasiado Humano (Excessively Human), which is currently on exhibition.
The exhibition discusses diversity, the flow of man's migrations, genetic similarity and shows the different versions to the creation of mankind, among other themes. But all shown lightly, pleasantly, as if in the movies.
It is not short of videos, interactive games and installations. Enjoy it, even if you have no kids, as it is not a boring trip, neither is it turned to school students, but it is a pleasant and informative trip for all ages.
Close by, Minas Metal Museum may be the second stop. Established in 2010 in the previous building of the State Education Secretariat, it calls attention due to its installations: a large pink house with marble stairs and columns inside. Luxury is everywhere. And the collection is presented in a humorous way.
For example: one of the first spaces to be visited in the museum is called "Starry floor", which shows an "inverted planetarium", i.e., telescopes turned to stones placed in a glass circle on the floor. Lights make the metals in the stone glow, on looking in you can see the details of topaz, gold and even a true diamond.
In another room, you can get a close look at malachite, tourmaline and quartz, to the sound of poetry. Another highlight is the corridor with stones displayed in small windows and cupboards that may be opened by viewers, who will then hear complementary information about the ores. This way, it is possible to learn about the true fool's gold, pyrite, often confused with the noblest of metals due to its golden sheen.
There are also stretches that connect mining to the economic development of Minas Gerais. There is also a screening of movie "Xica da Silva", of 1976, directed by Cacá Diegues, about relations between the former slave and Portuguese accountant João Fernandes de Oliveira, showing that peak of the state's production, during the colonial period.
After leaving the museum, it is worth going to the simulator that shows the way down into Morro Velho Mine, in the city of Nova Lima (some 60 kilometers away from Belo Horizonte). NB: the "guide" of the visit is emperor Dom Pedro II, represented by an animation that provides the information to visitors.
Want a little more of the history of Minas Gerais? Heading on to the Minas Vale Memorial is no waste of time. Sponsored by mining company Vale, it provides information about the state of Minas Gerais. And it includes all spheres: economics, culture, habits, traditions and even illustrious offspring.
Each wing shows a different area. It is all colorful, with videos and a scenic setting. The space, in fact, has scenography by Gringo Cardia, a professional renowned for designing the covers of records by artists like Maria Bethânia and Marisa Monte, just to mention two names.
Poems by Carlos Drummond de Andrade are printed on male figures in one room and, in another, the story of the revolution in Minas is told by actors who play the parts of the main characters, in movies placed in frames, with the viewer comfortably sitting in an arm chair and turning to see it all, turning attention from one to another picture/screen.
Going into another hall, it is possible to see a replica of a typical farm in Minas, the local handicraft, the dance and typical celebrations. It is a lesson on Minas Gerais and pays homage to the state.
With the consolidation of Liberdade Square Cultural Circuit, the objective of the Minas Gerais Culture Secretariat is to make it one of the most important areas for museums and equipment of the kind in Brazil. If that has not yet been reached, it is close.
Liberdade Square Cultural Circuit
TIM UFMG Space of Knowledge
Praça da Liberdade, sem número. Telephone: (+55 31) 3409-8350
Minas Metal Museum
Praça da Liberdade, sem número. Telephone: (+55 31) 3516-7200
Minas Vale Memorial
Praça da Liberdade, sem número. Telephone: (+55 31) 3343-7317