As I’m sure I’ve mentioned a hundred times, I majored in art history in college. I mention this because I feel that it somehow easily explains my love for history, art, culture, anthropology, and sociology. It’s not that I’m a super huge fan of memorizing names and dates and facts. But I am a super huge fan of people and how they influence the visual and cultural dimensions of a society. I suppose that’s really what has brought this blog to life.
All that to say, I never pass up the opportunity to go to a museum. And I will pretty much drag anyone along who’s willing to go. Art museums are my preference but I’ll take what’s available. I have a very bad habit - or good habit depending on how you look at it - of wanting to read every single plaque and historical marker available to me. This typically means that I’m not actually much fun to go to museums with. I think my record so far was 9 hours in the Prado in Madrid and I only left because they were closing. So it’s generally convenient for my museum-going companions, in this case my dad, if all the plaques are in another language that I can’t read.
Our last day in Florianopolis we managed to squeeze in a visit to the Museu Historico Santa Caterina, also known as the Palácio Cruz e Sousa. Santa Catarina is the name of the state in which Florianopolis is located and the building itself, built in the mid-to-late 18th century, was once a governmental building and home of the governor. It was given its name in honor of the famous 19th century poet João da Cruz e Sousa, a son of freed slaves and was from the state. The building officially became a historical museum in the 1980s but was particularly interesting to me because the building has evolved in its 250 years of existence to be a fabulous meld of baroque, neoclassicism, and art nouveau styles.
The front of the museum is pink (it was originally white in the 1700s), with elaborate corinthian columns, gargoyle faces, and almost grotesque embellishments. Inside the walls were covered with frescos and every ceiling had elaborate molding and crystal chandeliers. The staircase features marble imported from Carrara and at the top of the stairs, a giant, stain glass entry is decorated with colorful, art nouveau florals. By far the most impressive part to me though, was the floor. Every room on the top floor had hardwood, inlaid floors, with a different pattern in each room. When you take into consideration the fact that they would have been cutting each, tiny piece of wood by hand, and fitting all of the little points and pieces together, it must have taken hundreds, if not thousands, of man hours.
The building was gorgeous to say the least and after making our way back to the hotel through manicured gardens, past colorful murals, and over cobblestone sidewalks, I reflected on this little taste of Brazil I’d been given. I acknowledge that that taste is sugar-coated. I experienced and saw a structured, tourist-centric perspective, Santa Catarina putting her best foot forward. But I loved every minute of my perfect little Brazilian adventure and would return in a heartbeat to explore any part of the country given the opportunity.