MASP - Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand has been developing the MASP em expansão project since 2019, which consists of the construction of a new building, named after Pietro Maria Bardi. The building will increase the museum’s gallery and multipurpose spaces, with an appropriate structure for exhibitions, educational programs and restoration services, providing the public with greater access to culture.
This is the most significant event in the museum’s history, following its move from Rua 7 de Abril, at the headquarters of Diários Associados, to Avenida Paulista in 1968. At the time, the relocation took place so that the museum could have a home worthy of its collection. The building designed by Lina Bo Bardi (1914-1992), a modernist architect who received a Special Golden Lion at the 2021 Venice Biennale for her oeuvre, has become a picture postcard for the city and a symbol of 20th century modern architecture worldwide.
As a way of preserving and recognizing the history of the institution and its founders, the original building will be named after its architect, Lina Bo Bardi, and the new building will bear the name of the museum′s first artistic director, Pietro Maria Bardi (1900-1999). These names, combined with that of the institution itself, Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand, named after its founder (1892-1968), will complete the tribute to MASP′s founding trio.
“MASP is thus undergoing the most significant physical expansion in its history, using its own resources. We are going to increase the museum′s exhibition capacity by 66% and integrate the two buildings, a very important investment in São Paulo′s culture. I believe that this expansion will consolidate both the museum and Avenida Paulista as a cultural hub: perhaps the most important cultural hub in Brazil, of which MASP is undoubtedly the anchor,” comments Alfredo Setubal, Chairman of the Board, MASP.
Scheduled for completion in 2024, the Pietro building will have 14 floors. These will be occupied by five exhibition galleries and two multipurpose galleries. The building will also house a restaurant, ticket office, museum store, classrooms and a restoration lab. After the renovation, MASP′s total area will be 17,680 m² (it is currently 10,485 m²). Along with increasing the physical space, the new building will expand what MASP is and represents nationally and internationally
“With this expansion project, MASP is taking on a structure similar to that of international museums, with the capacity to welcome around 2 million visitors, in line with the needs of a large global metropolis like the city of São Paulo. The new building brings the museum’s physical structure up to par with its institutional ambition, transforming the museum to welcome the next generations,” says Heitor Martins, director-president of MASP. The gains will be manifold: increased public access; a new and better structure to offer courses and public programs (workshops, lectures, seminars, teacher training, etc.); a larger environment equipped with the latest technologies for restoring iconic works, which, added to new acquisitions made yearly, tell increasingly diverse, inclusive and plural art histories.
Due to physical limitations, just over 1% of the museum’s collection is currently on display. In total, MASP has more than 11,000 works including paintings, sculptures, objects, photographs, videos and clothing from different periods, encompassing Europe, Africa, Asia and the Americas. This is another aspect that will be positively impacted by the new building.
“MASP′s collection has been growing. Our plan is for the 2nd floor and 2nd basement of the Lina building to be dedicated to long-term exhibitions, with works belonging to the museum′s permanent collection. The new galleries in the Pietro building, with high ceilings and equipped with state-of-the-art air conditioning and lighting systems, will be used for temporary exhibitions,” says Adriano Pedrosa, artistic director at MASP. “The museum’s program is currently limited. These new spaces will give the museum’s agenda a boost and enable a better organization of exhibition narratives, in addition to increasing the number of exhibits held per year.”
The Pietro building will also allow the museum’s technical facilities to be complemented and upgraded, with the expansion of areas such as storage and docks that currently impose real limits on operational management.
An essential part of the project is the underground connection between the two buildings, which will be under Rua Prof. Otavio Mendes. Another important transformation will be the relocation of the ticket office to the Pietro building, freeing up the open span under the original building and giving this space back its former purpose as a public square, a use that Lina Bo Bardi advocated for ever since she designed MASP′s present building.
The Pietro building’s lower floors will be completely transparent, in keeping with the free span of the original building, and the upper floors will be clad in perforated and corrugated metal panels, which will create a monolithic image without hindering the appreciation of the landscape and the entry of natural light, through strategically positioned openings according to the needs of the internal spaces.
In a conversation with Heitor Martins, the museum’s director-president, and other museum leaders, architect Paulo Mendes da Rocha (1928-2021), Pritzker Prize for architecture, emphasized that MASP should design a new building to provide all the necessary functions for what is carried out in the museum, but following an architecture that would highlight the one developed by Lina, without competing with it.
The undertaking will seek sustainable solutions to reduce its carbon footprint, it will be LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified, modern and technological, with automated LED lighting, resulting in a significant reduction in energy consumption. In addition, there will be a double façade that protects the building from solar radiation and shades the windows, reducing the internal thermal load. The metal cladding over the building will allow a layer of air to form between the building and the external façade, creating a microclimate. This will relieve the ventilation and air conditioning system, reducing energy consumption.
The project is entirely funded by individual donations – in keeping with MASP’s characteristic since its foundation of engaging private society in its many projects. “Making the construction of this building possible through donations is the crowning achievement of MASP’s new administrative model, an institution whose pillars are based on civil society,” says Heitor Martins.
The donors see the action as an opportunity to leave an unquestionable cultural, touristic, urban and economic legacy for the country. “Fortunately, the donor families understood the significance of what we were proposing: to receive donations from individuals, without incentives from the Rouanet Law. With this, we showed that organized civil society can carry out important projects, as long as it trusts the institution′s governance. More than expanding, we are building a museum for the future,” says Alfredo Setubal.
“We’re not simply constructing a building,” says Geyze Diniz, vice-president of the MASP Council, “we’re giving the museum the conditions to grow.” “The involvement of civil society is increasingly important in institutions. We see this not only in Brazil, but around the world. Inspired by this, we understood that it was possible to make the expansion feasible in partnership with civil society, which has been engaged with the museum in recent years and has enabled it to reach the level of prominence it is at today,” she adds.
“ MASP em Expansão is Brazil′s largest family-supported philanthropy with no tax breaks or government incentives. This move will turn MASP into the maestro of Avenida Paulista’s cultural institutions, consolidating this important Brazilian cultural corridor,” says Ronaldo Cezar Coelho, president of the MASP em Expansão committee.
The museum’s expansion was first conceived by Julio Neves, an architect who served as MASP’s president for 14 years, from 1995 to 2009. In the 1990s, Neves was responsible for the renovation that included the installation of the museum′s storage area and the renewal of the air-conditioning system. He participated in the purchase of the Dumont-Adams building in the 2000s and developed the initial design for the building. Over the years, the project has undergone changes to obtain approval from the historical heritage authorities and meet the new uses intended for the space.
“The project is on par with the technology applied to the best museums in the world and I do not know of any other similar structure in Brazil. I believe that the expanded MASP will be an unrivaled example of planning and modernity in our country,” says Júlio Neves.
The architectural project was a collaboration between Julio Neves and METRO Arquitetos Associados, owned by partners Martin Corullon and Gustavo Cedroni. The firm, which has had a fruitful relationship with MASP since 2015, made technical adaptations to the iconic glass easels developed by Lina Bo Bardi and reinstalled in the museum in 2016. The floating displays, which can be seen on the second floor, are among the museum’s greatest symbols and are part of the architect’s original project.
METRO was also responsible for the re-adaptation of exhibitions designed by Lina for MASP, such as Arte da França: de Delacroix a Cézanne (2015), Portinari popular (2016) and A Mão do Povo Brasileiro, 1969/2016 (2016-2017), as well as for the assembly of new exhibitions such as Histórias afro-atlânticas (2018), voted by The New York Times as one of the best of that year. Julio Neves and METRO also worked on improvements to the building, such as changing the elevators, renovating the large auditorium and the museum’s administrative area. The implementation of the project will be led by Miriam Elwing, project and architecture manager at MASP, with the support of Tallento. Racional was the company hired by MASP to carry out the pre-construction (responsible for the constructability aspects of the projects) and the construction work for the museum’s expansion.