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Museum of the Northeast Man

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Museum of the Northeast Man

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Last update: 19/09/2013

By: Lúcia Gaspar - Librarian of the Fundação Joaquim Nabuco

The ‘Museu do Homem do Nordeste’ (Museum of the Northeast Man), created in 1979, unites the archives of three other museums: the Museum of Anthropology, of the former Joaquim Nabuco Institute for Social Research (IJNPS), the current Joaquim Nabuco Foundation, inaugurated in 1965; the Pernambuco Museum of Popular Art (MAP), created by the Pernambuco State Government in 1955; and the Museum of Sugar, connected to the old Institute of Sugar and Alcohol (IAA) and incorporated into the IJNPS in 1977.

The diverse archive of the Museum of Anthropology, collected and organised by researchers René Ribeiro and Waldemar Valente since 1959 from various regions of Brazil, was composed of indigenous objects; pieces of Afro-Brazilian representations; construction materials from inhabitants of the 18th and 19th century rural Northeast areas collected by Gilberto Freyre; ex-votos (offerings), especially agrarian ones; cigarette packs; ceramic pieces from Caruaru and Carpina, Pernambuco, and a rich arvhive of Maracatu from Dona Santa.

The archives of MAP, which functioned at the Dois Irmãos gardens and was transferred to the IJNPS in 1966, consisted of popular ceramic pieces by Vitalino, Porfírio Faustino, Severino de Tracunhaém, Zé Caboclo, Zé Rodrigues, and other important potters; images of anonymous popular artists; popular toys made from wood, leather, cloth and straw, as well as a collection of ex-votos from the Santa Quitéria Church (Garanhuns, PE).

From the archives of the Museum of Sugar, acquired in most part through purchases in the Country and abroad, the valuable collection of sugar bowls, stamped crockery and the Dutch medals must be mentioned, besides the various other collections that document the history of sugar from social, agricultural and technological points-of-view.

In this way, the archives of the Museum of the Northeast Man is characterised by a wide variety of objects. It possesses as many fine pieces that belonged to the aristocratic sugarcane families as simple ones used by ordinary people of the region.

Situated in a large green area at 2187 Dezessete de Agosto Avenue in the Casa Forte neighbourhood of Recife, the Museum is a synthesis of the culture and history of the Northeast man.

In the Museum’s gardens there is an old, 36-seater open-model tram made from multicoloured wood; a railway locomotive that belonged to the Santa Terezinha Factory in Água Preta, PE, donated by José Adolfo Pessoa de Queiroz; a ‘locomóvel’, a type of hybrid cross between an automobile and a locomotive that is widely used by the region’s plantations; and a jangada, also made from multicoloured wood, that was used by the Ceará fisherman José Lima Verde on a voyage from Ceará to Rio de Janeiro in 1974. The boat was transferred from the National Historic Museum to the Museum of the Northeast Man.

Besides making a rich archive available to the public, the Museum of the Northeast Man develops activities geared towards the study, research and preservation and promotion of the socio-cultural patrimony of the Northeast man. It hosts educative and cultural programmes and artistic, documental and anthropological exhibitions.

As Gilberto Freyre wrote, in an unpublished text from the 1980s, published in the Museum Catalogue, edited by Banco Safra:

The Museum of the Northeast Man opens to scholars, in particular, and to the public in general, a museum with this function: to be a living documentation of the culture of the Northeast Man, including the most telluric: that of the farmer and the rural worker of this region: of their residency; of the most typical characteristics of their wardrobe; of their buildings; china; ceramics; homes; baskets; transport; shoes; kitchenware; of their art; their agricultural working techniques; of their toys and games; of their pipes; their sharp knives; of their wooden bowls; of their sculptures of saints; of their promises and their offerings connected to agrarian life; of their harnesses; of their spurs. Of their animal adornments [...]

Recife, 17 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 Homem do Nordeste: [catálogo]. São Paulo: Banco Safra, 2000.

QUINTELLA, Ariadne. Museu guarda história do homem do Nordeste. Cultura, Brasília, DF, ano 11, n.39, p.16-21, jan./jun. 1982.


how to quote this text

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