National Museum Indigenous Collection now has virtual exhibition


“The First Brazilians” collection was not reached by the fire. It presents memories of the building of Brazil, Indigenous cultural artefacts, narratives and contemporary statements. The launching of the virtual exhibition is on 13 April 2021. 

Historical panels, music, films and photographs recording the diversity and narratives of Indigenous peoples make up the Os Primeiros Brasileiros (The First Brazilians) exhibition. The Anthropologist João Pacheco de Oliveira from the National Museum/Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ), in close partnership with the Articulation of Indigenous Peoples and Organizations in the Northeast, Minas Gerais and Espirito Santo (APOINME), has conceived this show. More than 250 thousand people have already appreciated it, and now it gets a virtual edition.

In 2018, when the fire broke out at the National Museum (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil), the collection was at the Indigenous Peoples Memorial in Brasilia. The last physical version of this exhibition was at the National Archives (RJ) in 2019. In March 2020, it had to be closed to the public to contain the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. Encouraged by the Museu Nacional Vive Project – technical cooperation between UFRJ, UNESCO and Vale Cultural Institute –, the idea of this virtual edition has shown up amid the efforts to rebuild the Museum. This initiative invites the whole society to have a reactivate contact with this notable collection.

From the Northeastern indigenous peoples' considerations, the exhibition represents a dive into the history of Brazil, recovering the exuberance of these populations at the beginning of colonization. It shows forms of domination to which they were submitted and the strength and vitality of its cultural production. In the end, it points out the role of these peoples and communities in contemporary times, putting into practice a new form of citizenship, which collaborates with the construction of a multi-ethnic and multicultural nation project.

João Pacheco de Oliveira - Anthropologist from the National Museum/UFRJ (Brazil)

Awakening new emotions and perspectives about the Indigenous peoples, the exhibition proposes an immersion in images, texts and soundtracks presented in four moments: the first encounter, the trap of colonization, the indigenous world and contemporary citizenship forms.

About 180 historical and contemporary images, 12 soundtracks and 05 films make up the environments. Photographs and descriptions of artefacts that were not reached by the fire, such as a Tupinambá mantle, ritual masks, traps, musical objects and armaments, illustrate the collection's richness. One of the distinguishing aspects of this virtual exhibition is the most significant space dedicated to narratives and indigenous representations of our time, whether through video testimonials or photo galleries of different peoples. Another highlight is that this exhibition offers a teaching guide with theoretical references and suggestions for practical activities that can be developed in physical or digital classrooms.

This virtual exhibition is another example of the resilience of the National Museum, which, despite all adversities, manages to present a high-quality product to the public. By making this virtual, multimedia and free exhibition available, with support for educators, we are expanding the access to the educational, scientific and cultural mission of our museum of natural history and anthropology. It is now crossing the borders of Rio de Janeiro. All this is thanks to the dedication of our specialists and our very essential partners, who have supported and worked together with the curator and his team, seeking to stimulate important reflections in classes, based on this enchanting experience about traditional and scientific knowledge.

Alexander Kellner - Director of the National Museum/UFRJ (Brazil)

Launching of the Virtual Exhibition Os Primeiros Brasileiros

  • Date: Tuesday, 13 April 2021 | at 06:00 p.m. (Brasilia time)
  • Location:  Museu Nacional/UFRJ, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
  • Watch the launching ceremony at 

After the launch event, the exhibition will be available for visitation. At the end of the virtual visit, it will be possible for the public to assess, suggest new themes and collaborate with the future exhibitions of the National Museum/UFRJ.

About the Museu Nacional Vive project

The Museu Nacional Vive (National Museum Lives) project, which presents this virtual exhibition, is a result of a technical cooperation agreement between UFRJ, UNESCO and Vale Cultural Institute.

This project has platinum sponsorship from BNDES, Bradesco and Vale, and the support of the Ministry of Education (MEC), the Rio de Janeiro Federal Parliamentary Group, the Legislative Assembly of Rio de Janeiro State (ALERJ) and the Federal Government through the Culture Incentive Law. Based on transparency and participation principles, it relies on social mobilization and permanent articulation of partnerships to rebuild and develop the National Museum/UFRJ to return it to society the soonest possible. It counts on the partner institutions such as the Friends of the National Museum Association (SAMN).