Mining magnate and contemporary art collector Bernardo Paz, founder of Brazil’s Inhotim Institute, will donate 330 works to the museum. Paz made headlines in 2013 when, Brazil’s Federal Public Ministry filed a complaint charging him with directing via an overseas account more than $95 million raised for Inhotim into Itaminas, a conglomerate of twenty-nine mining and steel companies that he oversaw. He was found guilty of money laundering in 2017 and sentenced to nearly a decade in prison. In 2020, however, he was unanimously acquitted of the crime.
The gift, which includes works by Matthew Barney, Arthur Jafa, Cildo Meireles, Ernesto Neto, Pipilotti Rist, and Do Ho Suh, is part of an initiative aimed at making the museum more accessible to the public and is intended to ensure its financial stability. Despite the size of and value of the donation, it represents just a small portion of Paz’s personal collection, which is housed at Inhotim and encompasses thousands of pieces and features works by more than sixty artists from thirty-eight countries. A number of the gifted works either currently are or will be on view in the ongoing exhibition “Acervo em Movimento” (Collection in Motion), which is themed around new acquisitions.
Established in 2006 in Brumhadino, near the city of Belo Horizonte in the central Brazilian state of Minas Gerais, Inhotim is the largest outdoor museum in Latin America. The art park is privately funded by Paz and includes twenty-three galleries and a botanical garden containing more than 4,300 species. Spanning 5,000 acres, Inhotim is able to host monumental works that might typically be hard to show elsewhere. The museum recently underwent a leadership change, with Lucas Pessôa—formerly the general director of Recife, Brazil’s Oficina Brennand and a past finance and operations director at MASP, São Paulo—named president and director.
“The donation and the opening of Inhotim to society is a process that began much earlier, when Bernardo generously decided to open his private collection to public visitors in 2006,” said Pessôa. “Since then, there have been more than 4 million visitors in the last 15 years, as well as 800,000 children, young people and adults who have been served by its social-educational programs. Therefore, despite being a private institution, Inhotim’s mission has always been a public one.”
Inhotim also announced the establishment of a new advisory board. Led by Paz, the board is made up of twenty members representing various industries. Expected to expand to thirty member by year-end, the body will oversee administrative and financial operations, but will not be involved in artistic or programming decisions.