The following is a list of museum and public buildings of interest in Olinda. The most important are indicated by the symbol before the name. Of course, a visit to Olinda must include a visit to its many churches, home to so much of the city’s art and trestures.
Museum of Contemporary Art (Museu de Arte Contemporânea) Rua 13 de Maior 157. (81) 3429 2587. Tue-Fri 8am-6pm; Sat & Sun 2-5.30pm. The museum is housed in an building that dates back to 1722. Originally it served as a religious prison for those accused, under ecclesiastic jurisdiction, of conspiracy against the Catholic church. The first floor was reserved for blacks, crioles and witches. The external stairs lead to a second floor where whites were held. The building has had National Heritage status since 1966. The galleries have a permanent collection and also hosts temporary exhibitions. MAP
Regional Museum of Olinda Rua do Amparo 128. (81) 3429-0018. Tue-Fri 9am-5pm; Sat & Sun 2-5pm. Most museums in Olinda are housed in historic old buildings, but this one is in a typical colonial home built between 1745 and 1749 to be the home of the Bishop of Olinda. The symbols on the facade above the main gate indicate its intended use. Note also that the roof has three layers, a sign of the wealth of the occupant. In the three rooms and one bedroom are items of sacred art from the 16th and 17th century, Brazilian Colonial furniture, Chinese and French Porcelain, Portuguese ceramic tiles and other artifacts of a wealthy owner. MAP
Museum of Sacred Art R. Bispo, Coutinho 726. (81) 3429 0032. Tue-Fri 8-12am & 2-6p; Sat & Sun 2-5.30pm. The old Olinda town hall and palace of the bishops was built in 1676. Since 1974 it has been the Museum of Sacred Art and is home to a permanent collection of sacred art with pieces dating from the 16th century. Modern and popular art is also shown with a collection of images and photographs illustrating the evolving landscape of Olinda. Among the modern additions are a set of eighteen passages of the Passion of Christ, each by a different artist from Pernambuco. MAP
Museum of Mamulengo Rua de São Bento 3446. (81) 3429 0032 Tue-Sun 9am-5pm. Founded in 1995, this museum explains the tradition of mamulengos which are puppets, a feature of popular culture from the northeast. In the collection of over 1,500 pieces there are figures from folklore, legend and superstition. Many are humorous, others horrific, and all are interesting. An English speaking guide is often available. You can read more about the story of the Mamulengo in the Recife Guide Magazine. MAP
Observatory Rua Bispo Coutinho. (81) 3493 6697. Mon-Fri 9am-8pm; Sat 4pm-8pm. Until 1860, the Royal Observatory of Brazil was managed by French astronomer Emmanuel Liais, who discovered the vantage point Olinda offered and established the current tower. From the tower, he discovered a new comet which was named after him. In 1882, important studies of the passage of Venus were observed. Meteorological studies continued until the 1960’s, and the tower was deactivated in the 1970’s, with equipment being transferred to the Malakof Tower in Recife Antigo.