INHOTIM Botanic Garden and Gallery

Have you ever heard of Inhotim, the Botanic Garden and Open Air Gallery in Brazil?
No?
No wonder, since this amazing place is hidden on the outskirts of a lost place called Brumadinho, located about one hour from Belo Horizonte.

Spotting Hélio Oiticicia's Invenção da cor, Penetrável Magic Square # 5, De Luxe across one of various ponds at INHOTIM Botanic Garden and Gallery.
Spotting Hélio Oiticicia’s Invenção da cor, Penetrável Magic Square # 5, De Luxe across one of various ponds.

At Inhotim, God’s artistic creations such as flowers and trees are of genuine, pure beauty, indeed. However, in combination with creations by earthly visual artists, they become just marvelous.

Bernardo Paz, the founder of Inhotim, is not the first impresario to recognize that this synergy is just unbeatable.

Dan Graham's Bisected Triangle at INHOTIM Botanic Garden and Gallery
Dan Graham’s Bisected Triangle in the backdrop of the lush greeneries. At Inhotim, God’s creations and the other artists’ works go together just so well.

I’ve been to a couple of other fantastic combinations of Godly and artistic creations, brought together by some wealthy impresarios like Henry E. Huntington at his Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens in San Marino, just minutes from Pasadena. Another world-famous venue in a breathtakingly beautiful setting is Knud W. Jensen’s Louisiana Museum of Modern art at Humlebaek North of Copenhagen.

However, I can assure you that none of these can compete with Inhotim.

Brumadinho

The premises, officially called Instituto De Arte Contemporânea E Jardim Botânico, are located prima facie unexpectedly in the outskirts of Brumadinho. It’s a village in Brazil‘s federal state of Minas Gerais amidst a depressing minors’ region about 60 kilometers from Belo Horizonte.

Despite its isolated location, Inhotim attracts art aficionados from around the world.

View of Brumadinho in Minas Gerais in Brazil
Green, green grass of….Brumadinho.

As a matter of fact, the district of Brumadinho was founded in 1923 and populated by miners and their families.

Bernardo Paz de Mello

The founder of Inhotim, Bernardo Paz de Mello, was born in 1949 in the very district of Minas Gerais where he also made his fortune. As he has been very attached to his native region, he bought a large lot of land. Not only did he build his home on the ground. He also installed his ambitious art venue Inhotim in this forlorn spot.

In 2019, Brumadinho and its approximately 20,000 inhabitants gained notoriety when in January a tailings dam collapsed. This led to a mudflow that buried houses in a rural area near the city. About 186 people died.

Inhotim

Inhotim – what an unusual name, right?! It is said, that Bernardo Paz’s property once belonged to an Englishman. The locals referred to him as ’inho Tim – Mister Tim.

The entire complex of Inhotim, hence, the botanic garden including all the galleries, spreads over more than 20 square kilometers. It’s located in the northern outskirts of Brumadinho. If you are not exactly gimpy, it’s easy to walk there. Nevertheless, there is also a local bus between the town center and the gardens.

Spotting Hélio Oiticicia's Invenção da cor, Penetrável Magic Square # 5, De Luxe across one of various ponds at INHOTIM Botanic Garden and Gallery.
Just look at all these different palm trees. The colorful concrete blocks are one of the most photographed work: Invenção da cor, Penetrável Magic Square # 5, De Luxe by Hélio Oiticica

It is a garden Eden with an indescribable variety of different species of extraordinary plants. The number of different palm trees alone…I think there is no plant on earth that’s not represented in Inhotim. Actually, Paz even imported flora from different places in Asia.

INHOTIM Botanic Garden and Gallery
The gardens, too, are meticulously designed: Between around 5,000 species of plants rivers lakes were dug out and creeks are flowing.

No wonder it is so beautiful since it was the famous landscape artist Roberto Burle Marx who designed the layout for Bernardo Paz.

Adding Excellence to Beauty

This paradisiac plantation alone would make every trip to Inhotim worth the time and effort. However, the lush gardens are just a rich setting for amazing architecture housing large galleries and white cubes.

There are two dozens of pavilions with lots of space even for humongous installations.

So inside and out, there is an exquisite collection of the most outstanding modern art on display. As a matter of fact, the exhibit shows about 500 works by Brazilian and international artists like Yayoi Kusama, Anish Kapoor, or Olafur Eliasson.

Deleite by Tunga at INHOTIM Botanic Garden and Gallery.
That’s how it all started: Deleite by Tunga

Paz’ complete collection, however, consists of more than 1.300 works.

Bernardo Paz started buying the land and building his home that he filled with art in the 1980s. He began buying Brazilian modernist art. Only in 1995, he became a serious collector. Brazilian contemporary artist Tunga inspired and motivated the wealthy impressionario.

Galeria True Rouge at INHOTIM Botanic Garden and Gallery.
View across one of the beautiful lakes at the Galeria True Rouge where one of the strongest works by Brazilian artist Tunga is exhibited.

Slowly but surely, Paz extended his activities until in 2002, he finally founded Inhotim.

Initially, the institution opened its gates exclusively to certain groups. Only since 2006, also the general public has been allowed to visit. Since then, about 3 million visitors made their way to Inhotim.

As You Visit

Today, everything there is special and beautiful and caring and welcoming. Whether it’s the repellent that every visitor can use for free or the little cars that take guests from gallery to gallery.

Insect Repellent
Usually, I don’t tend to take pictures of repellent, but I think it’s such a great service to offer it to the visitors.

Of course, there is free WiFi. But what is as important and convenient is the high number of sockets you find all over the place to recharge your phone or camera whenever you need it.

There are water faucets at the visitor’s disposal and many clean bathrooms – with an intriguing smell of lemongrass!

Water fountain
Some of the water faucets might be already occupied, but don’t worry, the next one won’t be far.

They have a rather fancy restaurant serving an excellent all you can eat buffet for 20 bucks. But there is also a cheaper buffet-style restaurant which is also good, but more like a cafeteria.

Cafeteria at INHOTIM Botanic Garden and Gallery.
Even the cheaper cafeteria is set up really nicely and with the vertical blades, it’s like outdoor eating with a great view.

In addition, there are a couple of snack and fast-food stands on the premises.

There are many shady places where you can relax from walking and repose from awing. Some of them are equipped with extraordinary seats made of raw wood.

Of course, there is a gift shop where you can stock up on original souvenirs.

Natural bench at INHOTIM Botanic Garden and Gallery.
Perfect place for a short – or longer – break: A bench, carved from a huge tree trunk, placed under…a huge tree.
(Photo: Otávio Nogueira from Fortaleza, BR, Inhotim (26164690911), CC BY 2.0)

You can easily spend the entire day there. And that’s what I did without any symptoms of museum fatigue.

Thinking Big and Falling Deep

So yes, the place has a size of 5,000 acres and the collection consists of 1,300 works. Obviously, thinking big is definitely Bernardo Paz’s motto.
Also, the mining magnate likes to emphasize that he was planning the museum for the next 1,000 years.
Well, living in Germany, I must say that people here would get very suspicious when they hear this.
In the last century, Europe’s experience with over-ambitious men planning for 1,000 years was quite unpleasant – if you know what I mean.

However, his over the top gigantomania is not the impresario’s biggest flaw.

Sadly, he doesn’t seem to always live up to his ideals. The man who became a billionaire through a network of mining and steel companies has been accused of breaking a series of environmental laws. Furthermore, he benefited from child labor and according to governmental investigations of ‘slave-like’ working conditions in one of his plants.

Finally, in 2017, Paz was convicted of money laundering and sentenced to nine years of jail.

To keep Inhotim’s name clean, he stood down from his position as a chairman of the board of directors.

What’s in a Name?

Actually, the fact that he’s being convicted for money laundering is even a tad bit funny. My God, that’s such a Latinamerican cliché!

The accusations of having damaged the environment is more than disappointing. The effect of these violations had a terrible impact on people’s living conditions. And having abused his workers is just despicable.

 at INHOTIM Botanic Garden and Gallery.
Somehow this work created by Adriana Varejão, Paz’ fifth wife, is a great metaphor: As you break the white tiled wall, you discover all the ugly intestines.

Although I still think that Inhotim is a fantastic project, the allegations against Paz do give it a negative connotation. It’s a bit as if you find out that a singer of beautiful, soulful love songs is a child molester.

Things get tainted.

My Eight Favorite Galleries

But as I said – heaven is a place on earth, and this place goes by the name of Inhotim.

Obviously, I cannot introduce all of the 500 pieces. And to cherish them, you have to see them in person, anyway. So I show you some of my favorite pieces – and hope you like them. This way, you might want to put Inhotim on your list when visiting Brazil.

Installations

View of the Gallery Adriana Varejao  at INHOTIM Botanic Garden and Gallery.
At Adriana Varejão’s pavilion, it’s all about tiles – and be prepared for some bloody disturbing sights.
Jarbas Lopes' Troca-troca at INHOTIM Botanic Garden and Gallery.
Together with eight of his friends, the artist Jarbas Lopes traveled in the three cars of his work Troca-troca from Rio de Janeiro to the Museu de Arte Contemporânea do Paraná in Curitiba.
True Rouge gallery at INHOTIM Botanic Garden and Gallery.
True Rouge looks like an assembly of giant hearts – and not the Valentine-kind of hearts.
Dominik Lang's Sleeping City at INHOTIM Botanic Garden and Gallery.
The installation of sculptures called The Sleeping City looks like a three-dimensional painting by Joan Miró. It has been created by Czech artist Dominik Lang who uses parts of his father’s work, the sculptor father Jirí Lang, referring to the history of Czechoslovakia under Soviet occupation.
I’ve written a post about my family’s emigration from Czechoslovakia to Germany in my post on Prague.
Cilco Meireles' installation Através at INHOTIM Botanic Garden and Gallery.
Cildo Meireles’ installation Através is the perfect example for why extremely spacious galleries might be needed: The dimensions are  600 x 1500 x 1500 cm; nuff said?!

Paintings and Photography

Claudia Andujar's Fotos at INHOTIM Botanic Garden and Gallery.
It’s not by accident that Swiss-born photographer Claudia Andujar has one of the largest galleries all to herself: Although her photographs are less flashy and spectacular than some of the other works, her pictures of the Yanomami Indios are extremely powerful.
Luiz Zerbini's HIgh Definition at INHOTIM Botanic Garden and Gallery.
Yes, exactly, there are no intestines, no blood, sweat, nor tears, there are just sumptuous gardens in natural colors, combined in an untamed way – these are the painting by Luiz Zerbini. This one is called High Definition and I like it a lot since it is like a portrait of the plants at Inhotim gardens.

The installation I am not me, the horse is not mine by South African artist William Kentridge consists of eight film projections. They have been the artist’s preparatory work for a production of Dmitry Shostakovich’s satirical opera The Nose at the Metropolitan Opera in New York.

My Eight Favorite Sculptures And Installations

The pavilions are spacious so that even gigantic artifacts can be exhibited. However, there are pieces so humongous and heavy that they have to be outdoors.

Here are my favorite outdoor sculptures and installations.

Hélio Oiticicia's Invenção da cor, Penetrável Magic Square # 5, De Luxe at INHOTIM Botanic Garden and Gallery.
 Invenção da cor, Penetrável Magic Square # 5, De Luxe by Hélio Oiticica
(Photo: Bernadete Amado, InhotimPorBernadeteAmado, CC BY 3.0)
Narcissus Garden by Yayoi Kusama at INHOTIM Botanic Garden and Gallery.
Yayoi Kusama’s Narcissus Garden consisting of 1,500 mirrored stainless steel spheres, was also exhibited at London and New York in 2018.
Outdoorsy art by Edgard De Souza at INHOTIM Botanic Garden and Gallery.
Outdoorsy art by Edgard De Souza – being untitled gives it a pretty long title: Sem título, 2000; Sem título, 2002; Sem título (Bronze 5)
Zhang Huan's Gui Tuo Bei at INHOTIM Botanic Garden and Gallery.
Zhang Huan
Gui Tuo Bei
Jorge Macchi's Piscina at INHOTIM Botanic Garden and Gallery.
Jorge Macchi’s Piscina ran out of Ns.
The pools – this one outdoors and the indoor pool at Galeria Cosmococa – can be actually used by the visitors.
Chris Burdon's Beam Drop Inhotim at INHOTIM Botanic Garden and Gallery.
“Wait”, the weather god said “Chris Burdon’s Beam Drop Inhotim looks even more dramatic in the backdrop of dark clouds.” This sculpture is made of 72 steel beams dropped 45 meters from 150-foot-high cranes into a pit filled with wet cement.
Cristina Iglesias' Vegetation Room at INHOTIM Botanic Garden and Gallery.
The admirer reflected in the admired: Taking a picture of Cristina Iglesias’ open-air gallery Vegetation Room
Dan Graham's Bisected Triangle at INHOTIM Botanic Garden and Gallery.
And another artsy selfie: Standing in Dan Graham’s Bisected Triangle taking a picture of my reflection and the incredible view. 

How to get there

Getting to Brumadinho by public bus for instance from Belo Horizonte is fast, safe, and easy.

I don’t know how many buses are actually going from Belo Horizonte to Brumadinho since it’s really not that far. Since I had to make sure to catch my plane the next day, I made a reservation online and went with Saritur. A one-way-ticket costs about 25 R$.

John Ahearn's Rodoviaria de Brumadinho at INHOTIM Botanic Garden and Gallery.
John Ahearn’s sculptural murals are showing you where to arrive: At the Rodoviária de Brumadinho, the bus station of Brumadinho

Once you arrive at Brumadinho, you can either take a cab, a local bus, or you just walk. From the village center, it’s about 20 to 30 minutes on foot.

Easy Day Trip

On weekends and holidays, Saritur offers a shuttle service from Belo Horizonte and back. It leaves at 8:15 a. m. from the central bus station and gets to Inhotim at 10 a. m. The fare is 41 R$. In the afternoon, the coach leaves Inhotim at 5:30 p. m. and arrives in Belo Horizonte at 19:25 p. m. – this trip costs – for what reason ever – only 37 R$.

There is also a shuttle service organized by the Inhotim people that theoretically serves the venue every day except Mondays. However, on Tuesday, Thursday, and Fridays, there have to be at least four passengers. You can make reservation sending your name and phone to inhotim@belvitur.com.br or through the website www.belvitur.com.br.

Generally, the coach leaves Belo Horizonte at 8:30 a. m. and goes back depending on the closing hours, i. e. 4:30 p. m. on weekdays and 5:30 p. m. on weekends and holidays. A roundtrip costs 66 R$, only return 35 R$.

If you only need a return ticket, you have to get at Inhotim. This is subject to availability.

If you have questions or want to make sure that the service is available, you can call + 55 – 31 – 32 90 91 80.

Opening Hours And Admission

The gardens and galleries are open to the public from Tuesday to Sunday from 9:30 a. m. to 4:30 p. m. – Saturdays, Sundays and holidays to 5:30 p. m.

The entrance fee for adults is R$ 44.00, kids from 6 to 12 have to pay half price and if they are younger than 6, entrance is free. Everyone else gets in for free on Wednesdays – except on holidays.

Guided tour through INHOTIM Botanic Garden
If you are ambitious to learn more about all the exotic plants, just let an expert guide you through this Garden Eden.

If you want to use the shuttle carts, you have to pay an extra 30 R$. Especially if you have only one day, you might want to save time by taking advantage of this service.

Charter of a private cart for up to 5 people 500 R$ per day or 200 R$ per hour.

Important Note

Before you go, check their website or inquire directly whether special rules apply during your period of visit. When I visited, I needed proof of yellow fever vaccine, a couple of months later they abolished that. However, to save yourself from disappointment, inquire shortly before visiting.

INHOTIM
Rua B, 20
Brumadinho
Phone: + 55 – 31 – 35 71 97 00
Email: info@inhotim.org.br 

Where to Spend the Night

Honestly, there is no reason to spend the night at Brumadinho since there are all these convenient options to get to Inhotim just for the day.

However, if you prefer to book accommodation rather there than in Belo Horizonte, I can recommend Hostel Hari* due to its proximity to the venue. A ten minutes walk, and you’re there.
Another upside of this place is that the hosts are very kind. They have rooms of different sizes.

Still, you have to share the bathroom with other guests which might be a bummer. Also, the walls are quite thin so that you definitely should bring earplugs.

On this map, you find various lodging options around Brumadinho

Booking.com

Wanna read about other great places and more impressive art in Brazil? Then quickly go to this post and take your pick!

Pinnable Pictures

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SEM TITULO
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GUI TUO BEI
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NARCISSUS GARDEN

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Disclaimer: I appreciate that Inhotim did support me by granting free entrance and use of the shuttle carts. However, all opinions on these services are mine and weren’t by any means influenced by my cooperation partner. 
* This is an affiliate link. If you book through this page, not only do you get the best deal. I also get a small commission that helps me run this blog. Thank you so much for supporting me!

12 Replies to “INHOTIM Botanic Garden and Gallery”

  1. I love looking at art, and visiting places that showcase art. The art installations in your blog post look so fascinating and intense. I bet they were much cooler to see in real life too.

  2. Well, I can tell that they have really outstanding galleries there. In a place, I never knew existed. How did you figure out to there? Is it your search for art that brought you to Inhotim?

  3. This looks like such a creative and beautiful place. A truly unique destination to visit with an excellent mix of nature and art.

  4. What a hidden gem is that! I LOVED IT! One more place for my Bucket list ! I am pinning your post as I liked your photos a lot too, especially the True Rouge! Thanks for sharing this ��

  5. Wow. Brumadinho and Inhotim are so gorgeous. Wonder why I never heard about these places. Thanks for such a lovely guide and adding wonderful photos to your posts.

  6. I have never heard of this place before. But this looks stunning. Going through the pictures from art gallery made me want to visit it in person. Such an amazing piece of work.

  7. Wow what a incredible place to visit and clearly plenty to see. I've yet to visit Brazil, so I like reading about these kind of places. Inhotim is beautiful and so diverse too; I'm mesmerised by those trees too!

  8. What a beautiful place — right up my alley. Too bad the allegations against its creator have tainted it a bit but it still looks like an amazing place to visit. Great detailed info for anyone making the trek.

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