The Maré Museum: an integrated project of community

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The Maré Museum: an integrated project of community
Sociomuseology IV, Cadernos de Sociomuseologia, Vol 38-2010
The Maré Museum: an integrated project of community
Antônio Carlos Pinto Vieira, Cláudia Rose Ribeiro da Silva,
Luiz Antonio de Oliveira
Maré neighbourhood
Located between Avenida Brasil and Linha Vermelha, on the
shores of the Guanabara Bay, Maré is one of the main places
that constitute the Zone of Lepoldina, in the city of Rio de
Janeiro. Its geographical location, its landscape dominated by
stilts (supporting precarious housing suspended over mud and
water) and its contrasting proximity with Galeão International
Airport and the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, all
contribute to the perception of Maré as a proletarian area,
occupied by a population which operates under subordinated
socio-professional conditions and low educational levels
Part of the 30th Administrative Region, the Maré community
encompasses one hundred and thirty-two thousand
inhabitants (132,000), with an average figure of 3.4 people per
household (1). This average is very close to that in other cities
and regions in Brazil. In comparison, however, when looking at
the population density rates one may notice that the Mare
complex has about 21,400 inhabitants / km ², while the
municipality of Rio de Janeiro only has an average of 328
inhabitants per km ². The intense process of occupation of the
local land is a defining factor of Maré’s landscape. It is
accentuated, in the absence of trees, the scarcity of empty
spaces, the vertical development of the residences and the
intense circulation of pedestrians and transportation
The population is distributed across approximately thirty eight
thousand (38,000) households and sixteen communities. The
concentration of roads, public buildings and industrial /
Sociomuseology IV, Cadernos de Sociomuseologia, Vol 38-2010
commercial facilities make the borders heterogeneous, with
different types of neighbourhood. Also, the rivalry between
drug dealer factions is a strong inhibiting factor in the
circulation of residents in local spaces.
In terms of educational infrastructure, Maré has fifteen public
schools, and seven CIEP (Integrated Centres of Public
Education). The neighbourhood also has 7 community day
care centers for children between 0-4 years old, besides
several small private schools, focused on early childhood
education and elementary education. There is only one fulltime
high school and two other schools that offer classes in the
evenings, although the demand for high schools is growing.
According to the Maré Census, the percentage of illiterate
inhabitants above 14 years old is almost 10%. The percentage
is slightly below the national average (13.3%), but much higher
than the percentage for the municipality of Rio de Janeiro for
the year 1999 (3.4%). Regarding income, less than 1 / 3 of
inhabitants who live Mare earn more than 2 minimum wages
salary per month and as for child labor, 2% of children living in
Maré between 10 -14 years old are involved in some sort of
work activity while the rate for the municipality of Rio de
Janeiro is only 0,6%.
Sociomuseology IV, Cadernos de Sociomuseologia, Vol 38-2010
In this context, the Maré Centre for Studies and Solidarity
Actions (CEASM) has acted to turn education, beyond the
formal system, into a tool for the empowerment of its
inhabitants and the construction of new perspectives for social
The Maré Museum is integrated in a broader project of
community development, under the Maré Centre for Studies
and Solidarity Actions.
Already working thirteen years in Maré, the CEASM – Maré
Centre for Studies and Solidarity Actions, was constituted
through the articulation of a number of inhabitants who were
born and / or lived in the Maré communities. A peculiar
characteristic of the founders of CEASM is that they, in their
totality as a collective, have each achieved university level
education, and have a long history of involvement with
collective grassroots movements. Aware of their exceptional
socio-professional positions and the need to contribute to
improve the quality of life for Maré inhabitants, the group
founded the organization with the aim, among others, to break
away from the tradition of uprooting and rupture within the
home community, a tendency which is common among youth
that achieve university-level education.
The core of CEASM actions is guided by the understanding
that changing the local reality implies the production of
articulated initiatives that involve the inhabitants in its
construction, and encouraging a sense of identity and
belonging to the Maré community. This has required the
construction of a new social network, which offers
opportunities for local inhabitants to understand the local
space as free of prejudices and stigmas, providing access to
various cultural and educational products and stimulating new
ways of living.
Sociomuseology IV, Cadernos de Sociomuseologia, Vol 38-2010
The formative component of these actions is the fact that they
relate to various fields, beyond the formal learning space.
In this context, among the activities currently undertaken by
CEASM, are the following:
Maré Community College Preparatory Course (CPVTIDE): Currently has 280 students divided into four
classes, one in the morning and three in the afternoon.
During thirteen years of activity the CPV-Maré has helped
approximately 750 young people to be accepted in the
main universities in Rio de Janeiro.
Preparatory Course for the 5th Grade of the
Elementary School and High School: This initiative
currently enrols about 105 children and adolescents per
year. The goal is through systematic study, to provide this
age group, , with access to high quality public Elementary
Schools and High Schools.
Computer Courses: These courses are developed in two
laboratories with the latest technical equipment, designed
for different levels, with a special focus on teenagers and
young inhabitants of Maré. This course enrols
approximately 200 students per month.
Language Courses: A project that offers English and
French classes to 120 inhabitants of Maré.
Center for Image and Communication: Develops
professional courses in the areas of video production,
photography and visual arts, and aims to offer the local
youth professional basic training so they can produce new
cultural expressions, enter into the labor market and
expand access to other aesthetic languages.
Newspaper “O Cidadão” ("The Citizen"): Local
community newspaper, printed in magazine format, and
Sociomuseology IV, Cadernos de Sociomuseologia, Vol 38-2010
distributed for free every other semester in the 16
communities of Maré, with a circulation of 20,000 copies.
Maré Museum: Heritage education program that aims to
record and preserve the daily practices and tangible and
intangible heritage of Maré communities. The museum
functions as a central receiver, producer and broadcaster
that works in partnership with schools and local institutions
All the actions taken by CEASM aims at involving teenagers,
young adults and other local inhabitants, at different levels,
according to their education level and personal characteristics.
The initiatives undertaken are not an end in itself, but are
developed from the premise that they are means to stimulate
the participants in different social areas in Mare and in other
areas of the city.
The Maré Museum
The Maré Museum, founded on 8 May 2006, arose from the
desire of the inhabitants of the community to have a place of
memory, a place that is immersed in the past and looks to the
future, a place that reflects on this community, on their
conditions and identities and on their territorial and cultural
diversity. The intention of the Maré Museum is to break with
the tradition that the experiences to be recollected and the
places of memory to be remembered are those elected by the
official version, the "winner" version of the story that restricts
the representations of history and memory of large portions of
the population. The Maré Museum, as a pioneer initiative in
the city scene, proposed to expand the museological concept,
so that it is not restricted to intellectual social groups and
cultural spaces that are not accessible to the general
population. The museum has established recognition that the
slum is a place of memory and so has initiated a
museographic reading of the Mare community. ..
Sociomuseology IV, Cadernos de Sociomuseologia, Vol 38-2010
Maré Museum is defined by a set of actions aimed at
registration, preservation and dissemination of the history of
the slum communities of Maré, in its various aspects, whether
they relate to cultural, social or economic issues. The Museum
develops educational activities complementary to the formal
education system, through methodologies cantered in the
concept of heritage education, strengthening local memory
and history as tools for building identity references,
appreciation of the local space and sense of belonging for the
Maré inhabitants, who are confronted with the reality of
fragmentation and latent conflict between the local
Actions are developed from the museum's various
programmes - institutional, collections, exhibition-making,
cultural education, research and dissemination. The backbone
to the actions of the Mare Museum is the permanent
exhibition, which unfolds into document collection, conducting
research in oral history, and the development of recreational
and educational activities such as storyteller groups; The
museum also hosts various events such as travelling
exhibitions, temporary exhibitions in the museum’s gallery,
seminars, workshops, library actions to encourage reading
among children.
The projects carried out by the Maré Museum aim to
encourage the creation of channels that strengthen community
ties among inhabitants, mainly oriented towards a historical
and cultural identity and a concept of education based on
these values.
Principles and experiences in which our methodology is
Above all, the main reason for the creation of this museum
space is to affirm it as a meeting place. The city of Rio de
Janeiro is a place where differences and similarities have the
chance to meet, which allows for the creation of plural
Sociomuseology IV, Cadernos de Sociomuseologia, Vol 38-2010
identities that are, above all, human. In Rio de Janeiro, as in
other large Brazilian cities, however, the majority of the
population is gradually narrowing their time and space, thus
limiting the possibilities of coexistence and the full exercise of
The Museum, therefore, presents a permanent exhibition that
advocates the concept of “lived” time represented by calendar
and hours. This is why the exhibition is called "CalendarMuseum." Although permanent, everything in the exhibition is
changeable. There are twelve “times” represented by
expressions and desires that mark the route of community life
in Mare. Thus, there is the time of water, festivity, work,
children, fear, hope, etc.
The most interesting aspect of the journey of this museum has
been the response by the community. It has been incredibly
enthusiastic about the idea of being represented in a museum
and people wish to express themselves and expose
themselves to the city through this museological language.
Therefore, many inhabitants have made suggestions, and
have brought their personal objects to the museum as a
means of participating in its collection. Thus there is an
ongoing collective process from which the museum is
The narrowing of time is associated to the particular spatial
condition of the neighbourhood. Life in a restricted physical
area without a broader sense of belonging to the city of Rio
contributes to this place becoming the point of departure and
arrival of one’s whole existence. As an inhabitant of the
community, the person does not feel, in most cases, a citizen
of the polis, of the world.
To overcome this reality it is necessary create a of a virtuous
circle, supported by integrated and long term actions, and
where the overcoming of local and existential constraints
Sociomuseology IV, Cadernos de Sociomuseologia, Vol 38-2010
means continuous improvement of the quality of life for Maré
Thus, it is hoped that the Maré Museum can contribute to the
expansion of citizenship and democratic practice in the
neighbourhood and throughout society, in tune with what the
Brazilian National Museums Policy advocates: "In a complex
society such as Brazil, rich in diverse cultural manifestations,,
the role of museums in the scope of public policies with a
broader character, is of fundamental importance to the
enhancement (valorisation) of cultural heritage as a strategic
device for improving democratic processes. "
About the authors:
Antônio Carlos Pinto Vieira is Founder and Director of the Museu da Maré,
Rio de Janeiro. He is currently President of the Brazilian Association of
Museology. Studied Law and holds a masters degree in Social Memory
degree from the Federal University of the State of Rio de Janeiro
Luiz Antonio de Oliveira is Founder and Director of the Museu da Maré,
Rio de Janeiro, where he is also responsible for coordinating various
activities. He also teaches teenagers in high school preparatory courses.
Studied History and the Pontificial Catholic School of Rio de Janeiro (PUCRJ)
Cláudia Rose is Founder of the Museu da Maré, Rio de Janeiro. She is
Head of the Social Museology and Education Division of the Department of
(Comuse/Depmus/Ibram). Historian, holds a masters degree in Cultural
Assets and Social Projects from the Getúlio Vargas Foundation (FGV), Rio
de Janeiro.
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