Even from my first visit to Brazil in December 2014 I realised very quickly that in Brazil, if you're going to celebrate something you might as well go all out or why bother at all?
On Saturday the Museu do Amanhã opened it's doors to the public. The Museu do Amanhã translates as The Museum of Tomorrow. It's unlike any other museum I've ever heard of, it's a sort of hybrid science museum focusing on the evolution of humanity over the next 50 years with a focus on sustainability, climate change, population growth and longevity. The displays are all digital and interactive displays, I believe that there is actually only one physical exhibition piece. The museum uses natural resources to powers itself such as solar energy and water from the nearby Guanabara Bay for the cooling system.
The Museu do Amanhã is situated in the Praça Mauá, in the old port of Rio de Janeiro which has recently undergone a massive redevelopment. The Museu de Arte Do Rio (the Museum of Art) is also located here with free entry to the public on certain days, making this space a new culture hub.
The Brazilians love to party, so what better way to celebrate the grand opening of such a groundbreaking museum than by having an all day, all weekend event? We didn't dare brave the afternoon heat so headed down in the late afternoon, we arrived just in time to see a performance group singing and dancing on stilts. There's never a dull moment in Rio de Janeiro.
In celebration of the opening of the museum, it was free entry (after the opening weekend entry will cost R$10 - £1.70/$2.50) The queue to get in was snaking around the whole exhibition park so we passed it up and decided to walk around the museum instead. The structure is amazing, it reminds me of a whale skeleton. It also looked fantastic in the late afternoon sun, and the star sculpture in the middle of the water looked completely ethereal.
Rio de Janeiro is hosting the 2016 Olympic Games and walking around the museum you get that sense of excitement and pride. Rio and Brazil receive a lot of negative coverage in the press which is a constant source of frustration to me because there is so much more to Brazil than what you read in the paper.
I've never been in a city of 6 million people before, and it can be so overwhelming. But what I loved the most about being at the museum was that there were all sorts of people there. It goes to show that art, culture and knowledge is and should be available to everyone. Everyone no matter what their background is can come and enjoy the space. I've never seen such a melting pot of cultures. There are some great social divides in the country but here everyone was laughing, being with their families, enjoying the park and sharing their pride at being Brazilian.
In the evening a bossa nova band - Bossa Negra took to the stage, the whole crowd knew every word to every song and was singing along. All around us people were samba dancing, having drinks and just having a good time. It really touched my heart and almost made me choke up. There are people here who have very little and who struggle in their life but they still come to these events, listen to the music and enjoy the moment.
There is such a love of living here and it constantly overwhelms me, we Europeans don't seem to celebrate life the same way and always find something to complain about. I'm going to try and take as much of this Brazilian spirit with me as possible because it's infectious. We were all grinning from ear to ear on the way home and happily fell into our beds (that might have been the super strong caipirinha I had...). Hopefully I'll get the chance to go into the museum before I go home but by the sounds of it the hype is going to be around for a long time.