South of Belo Horizonte, tucked away in a green valley, surrounded by giant mining operations, is the Instituto Inhotim. It’s a centre for contemporary art, but it’s composed of many different “pavilions” set in landscaped gardens and forests. Our visit, on April 19th, was Marina’s birthday! The perfect day out to celebrate.

inhotim map
The routes

Now, normally when I hear “contemporary art”, I immediately think “Shite”. Because I’m a Philistine. But fortunately Inhotim is run by people with good taste, and 90% of what we saw is absolutely brilliant.

The exhibits vary between small collections, interactive “toys for grown-ups”, and huge buildings dedicated to single works. Our couchsurfing host in Belo Horizonte, Oliver, had given us a route map, and a sample itinerary for the day. Thanks for that, we would have been lost otherwise. Plus, we were advised to bring swimming gear, which isn’t something you typically need to appreciate art.

I could spend all day telling you about the fantastic exhibits on show- rather lets just go with a quick run through the best of them, and you can enjoy them yourself when you visit.


The best demonstration of “surround sound” you can imagine. 40 members of a British choir individually recorded, and played from 40 independent speakers. You can walk up and listen to each one in turn.


A room with a floor made of moveable wooden “doors” with which you can build a little house for yourself.


A big outdoor multicoloured architectural thing!


Not art, but some colourful toucans live here. I’m sure they enjoy their surroundings just as we do.


A concrete bunker, inside there’s a dark room with golden threads connecting floor to ceiling.


A mirrored pavilion with a surprise inside!


“Beam drop” – where the artist filled a huge hole with wet concrete, and then dropped large metal beams into it from a construction crane. Being an artist seems fun, now doesn’t it?


A reflecting pool.

The highlight of the day was a multi-room installation. You have to take your shoes off before you go in. The first two combine the music of Jimi Hendrix with giant soft toys you can build stuff with, or throw at each other. The next has hammocks and psychedelic projections on the roof.

The last, best, and most memorable: A darkened room, lit by the purple glow around a swimming pool. The soundtrack? An energetic, aggressive jazz by John Cage, the master composer.

But there’s much, much more…

It’s possible to buy a 2-day ticket. If you plan on seeing the whole place, you’ll certainly need it, if you wish to really appreciate the work that’s gone in here. Rush it, and you’ll regret it.


R$25 or $40 (€6 or €10), or free, depending on the day. It’s closed on Mondays.