Monday, June 7, 2010

Must-see Recife: Instituto Ricardo Brennand

Before I even touch on my stay in Recife (hih-SEE-fee) proper, let me get right to the absolute highlight of the trip. I had read about Instituto Ricardo Brennand before I left POA, and knew it was a must-see.

I found a bus from Olinda that went to the Recifan neighborhood of Cidade Universitária - close enough! I walked through the massive steel gates to find myself in Wonderland - or close enough.

Ah, the peace in symmetry.

At the far end of this lane, you reach lovely, manicured gardens that create a fabulous oasis amid the urban sprawl.

They are truly a unique and unlikely treasure.

Hold up, let's zoom in on that cannon!

Ha! "Alternative Security" perhaps?

Yes, that is a real Rodin sitting in the front gardens of the Castelo and Pinacoteca (or, castle and art gallery).

It is impossible for a layperson as myself to capture the size, diversity, or grandeur of the facility and its collection.

Aside from these parading, life-size horses (presumably stuffed, but I was too in awe of everything else to notice), this particular room had several full sets of armor; literally thousands of swords, knives, and guns; numerous artifacts from European cathedrals, including the massive stained glass windows; paintings, sculptures, and chandeliers.

Mesmo que chovesse canivetes, in this case, might have to be amended.

As if the castle and its treasures weren't satisfying enough, I still toured the art gallery. In addition to, well, art--there were artifacts! Some of the first books ever published in Brazil, as well as these:

...the first, hand-drawn maps of the Northeast coastline, courtesy of the Dutch. Not to mention the quirkier items: this mug and chalice, fashioned from silver-trimmed coconuts...

...and this... head on a plate! (So the expression did come from somewhere!)

This is a photograph of a painting of Mr. Brennand standing beside an Italian marble sculpture of a family fleeing Pompeii. I saw the actual sculpture too, and, while it was one of my favorite pieces, I remain equally impressed and curious about Mr. Brennand himself (Português) (English).

He has built a stunningly diverse collection, seemingly only glued together by his personal fascination for the pieces, then created a most elegant home for them, and opens the grand spectacle to the public for, certainly, less money than the monthly groundskeeping expense.

Olha, que linda!

Thank you ever so much, Mr. Brennand. Your institute is among the most impressive sites I've visited in all of my travels.

Loquinha Gauchinha