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Museum of Sugar

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Museum of Sugar

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Last update: 19/09/2013

By: Lúcia Gaspar - Librarian of the Fundação Joaquim Nabuco

The Museum of Sugar, envisioned by Gil de Methódio Maranhão, was created on 3 August 1960, by Resolution 1745 of the Institute of Sugar and Alcohol – IAA.

It had the objective of researching, gathering, organising and spreading the most representative social, artistic and technical aspects of the sugarcane agricultural industry in Brazil and in other sugarcane producing countries, as well as promoting study, research, courses and competitions for the knowledge and appreciation of the sugar civilisation.

Its first exhibition was held at the IAA headquarters in Rio de Janeiro, later being transferred to Recife where it was provisionally installed on 30 January 1961.

The Museum inaugurated its own site in October 1963 with the exhibition O Açúcar e o Homem (Sugar and Man). The building, designed by Carlos Antônio Falcão Correia Lima and located in the Casa Forte neighbourhood, had two floors and now houses the Museum of the Northeast Man, of the Joaquim Nabuco Foundation.

It had permanent and temporary exhibitions and upstairs was the Library, the Iconography and the administration of the organ.

The building’s surrounding gardens were designed by the agronomist Dárdano de Andrade Lima. In the internal part, some varieties of sugarcane were planted and placed in a monument, designed by Aloísio Magalhães, composed of a vertical mill-stone from the Vila da Rainha Plantation in Rio de Janeiro, and another horizontal one from the Camaragibe Plantation in Pernambuco.

Its archives, acquired through donations and purchases made in Brazil and abroad, consisted of scale models of devices used in the milling of sugarcane; pieces and utensils from the sugarcane industry; torture instruments for slaves; paintings; old sugarbowls; silver spoons and dinner sets belonging to nobles of the Empire; popular ceramics and pieces of sugarcane folklore; private coins from the factories; stamps with sugarcane motifs; various medals, including from the time of the Maurício de Nassau government; an iconographic collection with around 12,000 photographs that trace the history of the sugarcane plantation and factory families from Northeast Brazil, and ‘cachaça’ labels.

The Museum also had courses, conferences and contests, as well as publishing various books and a periodical. the Revista do Museu do Açúcar (Museum of Sugar Magazine), whose first edition was published in 1968 containing articles by notable researchers like José Antônio Gonsalves de Mello, Ariano Suassuna, Fernando Pio, Jayme Griz and others. The Revista had eight editions in the period from 1968 to 1973.

The Museum of Sugar was transferred, along with all its patrimony, to the Joaquim Nabuco Institute for Social Research (today the Joaquim Nabuco Foundation), through Law nº 6.456 on 26 October 1977.

Its archives can be seen today in the Museum of the Northeast Man.

Recife, 19 August 2004.
(Updated on 31 August 2009.)
Translated by Peter Leamy, March 2011.


sources consulted

JUCÁ, Joselice. Joaquim Nabuco: uma instituição de pesquisa e cultura na perspectiva do futuro. Recife: Fundaj. Ed. Massangana, 1991.
MUSEU do Açúcar [catálogo]. Recife: O Museu, 1969. 48p. il.


how to quote this text

Source: GASPAR, Lúcia. Museum of Sugar. Pesquisa Escolar On-Line, Joaquim Nabuco Foundation, Recife. Available at:  <>. Accessed: day month year. Exemple: 6 Aug. 2009.