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my city ISSN 1982-9922


Os presidentes do Docomomo Brasil e Internacional, Ana Tostões e Renato da Gama-Rosa Costa, denunciam o projeto de privatização do Palácio Capanema no Rio de Janeiro, antiga sede do MES/MEC e ícone da arquitetura moderna brasileira.

The presidents of Docomomo Brasil and Internacional, Ana Tostões and Renato da Gama-Rosa Costa, denounce the project to privatize the Palácio Capanema in Rio de Janeiro, the former headquarters of the MES/MEC and an icon of modern Brazilian architecture.

how to quote

TOSTÕES, Ana; COSTA, Renato da Gama-Rosa; INTERNATIONAL, Docomomo; BRASIL, Docomomo. Heritage under siege in Brazil. Capanema Palace for sale. Minha Cidade, São Paulo, year 22, n. 253.04, Vitruvius, aug. 2021 <>.

The Bolsonaro Government announced the auction sale of the Palácio Capanema in Rio, a modern architecture icon that was formerly the Ministry of Education building

A monument is born 1936-1945
On sale 2021-2022

Via the Ministry of Economy and the Ministry of Labor and Welfare, the Bolsonaro Government wants to privatize a group of properties belonging to the Union. The "star of the auction” is the Palacio Capanema, which was headquarters of the Ministry of Education and Health, later Education and Culture, until the capital moved to Brasília. An initiative of minister Gustavo Capanema supported by the Vargas Government, it is remarkable for its aesthetic, technical, landscape and urban innovations. A landmark of modern architecture in Brazil and in the world, it is an internationally recognized masterpiece of 20th century art.

An exceptionally gifted team worked on the design and construction of the Ministry from 1936 to 1945. The architects were Lúcio Costa, Oscar Niemeyer, Affonso Eduardo Reidy, Jorge Moreira, Carlos Leão and Ernani Vasconcellos. Le Corbusier briefly served as a consultant. Its gardens were designed by Burle Marx, interior panels by Portinari, carpets by Niemeyer, sculptures by Bruno Giorgi, Adriana Janacópulos, Lipchitz and Celso Antônio. The structural engineer was Emilio Baumgart. Iphan – Institute of National Historical and Artistic Heritage – listed the Ministry in 1948. Outstanding universal value justifies its inclusion in the list submitted by Brazil for Unesco World Heritage Site nomination.

Ministry of Education and Health, later Education and Culture, Rio de Janeiro RJ Brasil, 1936-1945. Architects Lúcio Costa, Oscar Niemeyer, Affonso Eduardo Reidy, Jorge Moreira, Carlos Leão and Ernani Vasconcellos
Foto/Photo Nelson Kon

The building retained its significance after the capital moved. It continued to shelter units from the culture sector, some from Iphan itself – like a Unesco-associated Heritage School serving South America and Portuguese-speaking Africa. Auditorium, exhibition gallery, library, and even the stilts under the gallery kept hosting activities and events relevant to specialists as well as to a general audience. In 2017, the building was closed for urgent restoration. Units moved to rented spaces. It was hoped that they would return after the restoration was complete, and the building would regain its status as a Palace of Culture open to all: a place for study, research, dialogue, and public gatherings, a persistent symbol of progressive, beautiful, and generous modernity, in Brazil and abroad.

But that may not come to pass. The building is under siege, as if it were just a vacant, ordinary office slab. This is a preposterous proposition, since the Palácio Capanema is an icon of incalculable value only momentarily closed for the rehabilitation of its halls, walks, and gardens. The old Ministry of Education and Culture is no white elephant. It embodies memories of the past and hopes for the future, because of what it represents and allows, touristic uses included. Privatizing the renovated palace and its square would show an embarrassing lack of education and culture, a false sense of economy, and frightening improvidence configuring a crime against national and world heritage.

Crimes of this sort cannot be covered-up, only prevented or punished.

The Capanema is ours.


NE1 – This document can be subscribed at the link <>.

NE2 – contact us at / Carlos Eduardo Comas – Chair, Docomomo Sul – Brasil.

about the authors

Ana Tostões is Chair of Docomomo International.

Renato da Gama-Rosa Costa is chair of Docomomo Brasil.


253.04 Rio de Janeiro
how to quote


original: português

outros: english



253.01 São Paulo


Uma praça nova assombrada pela velha pobreza

Celso Aparecido Sampaio

253.02 São Paulo

Cinemateca Brasileira

O fascínio do fracasso

Roberto Gervitz

253.03 Rio de Janeiro

MES à venda

Palácio Capanema à venda

Raquel Rolnik

253.05 São Paulo

Carta aberta sobre o Arquivo Histórico de São Paulo

Ana Maria de Almeida Camargo, Ana Célia Navarro de Andrade, Sonia Maria Troitiño Rodriguez and Marcelo Antônio Chaves

253.06 Rio de Janeiro

Carta de Kenneth Frampton a Ana Tostões e Renato Gama-Rosa Costa, presidentes do Docomomo International e Brasil

Palácio Capanema em risco

Kenneth Frampton

253.07 Rio de Janeiro

A destruição da memória

Contra a privatização de um importante monumento histórico e cívico

William J. R. Curtis

253.08 Rio de Janeiro

Lembrete para autoridades sem memória, e sem juízo

O Palácio Capanema não é mercadoria

Jorge Francisco Liernur

253.09 Rio de Janeiro

A venda do Palácio Capanema é um ultraje e uma insensatez

Carta aos arquitetos Carlos Eduardo Comas e Abilio Guerra

Josep Maria Montaner

253.10 Rio de Janeiro

Equipamentos, documentos, monumentos, desgovernos

A desventura do Palácio Capanema

Carlos Eduardo Comas

253.11 Rio de Janeiro

Oportunidade perdida (mais uma...)

Ignorância e ignorância assolam o Palácio Capanema

Andrey Rosenthal Schlee

253.12 Rio de Janeiro

Palácio Capanema

O difícil processo de alfabetização

Milton Hatoum


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