Sao Paulo is spoiled for great museums. Start with the Museu Paulista, whose architecture was inspired by France’s Versailles Palace. The collection is dedicated to preserving Brazil’s history through works of art, furniture, clothing, and other artefacts belonging to the people who shaped Brazil, including explorers, rulers, and freedom fighters.
The Museu da Imigração (Immigration Museum) tells the stories of the millions of immigrants who’ve shaped Brazil’s day-to-day life. It’s housed in the former Immigrants’ Hostel, which housed Sao Paulo’s first immigrants in the 19th century as they were treated for illnesses or sought work in the coffee plantations in Sao Paulo state. More than 2.5 million immigrants from more than 60 countries passed through the Hostel, all of them registered in databanks that are now searchable to the public. Every year, thousands of people find their ancestors in the Museum’s database.
The Sao Paulo Museum of Art is widely recognized as the finest art gallery in the southern hemisphere. There’s a fine collection of European art, supplemented by great work by Brazilian, South American, and African artists. The building itself is a widely recognized symbol of civic pride – two enormous colonnades support the entire 9200-ton building above a 240-foot-long open square.