Ema and Eva Klabin Foundations: united by art and technology


When visiting the Ema Klabin Foundation, in São Paulo, members of the public, as well as getting to know the house-museum’s rich collection and its architectural beauty, will also be able to pay a visit to another house-museum, by means of video conferencing.

The Ema Klabin Foundation, in Jardim Europa, São Paulo, is promoting, up until 3 September, its Ema Visita visitor’s program. Totems installed in the two house-museums will allow visitors to exchange ideas, see artworks, compare styles and generally find out more about each museum and their contents, thanks to the use of video conferencing. For the first edition of the Ema Visita Program, the natural choice was the Eva Klabin Foundation, in the city of Rio, created by Ema Klabin’s elder sister. Members of the public will be able to appreciate two different collections and spaces, influenced by the sisters’ distinct stylistic differences, simultaneously.

According to the Ema Klabin Foundation’s curator, the architect Paulo Costa, the aim of the Ema Visita Program is to make people think about the nature of house-museums. “It’s an opportunity for dialogue within a diverse public, which does not intend, in any way, to be a substitute for a physical visit, but simply to inspire interest”, he explains. The Ema Klabin Foundation’s cultural program, as well as maintaining and spreading the Word about the house, its collection and its founder’s memory, also welcomes questions about the neighbourhood’s history, the city and its inhabitants. The Foundation has been promoting an environmental sustainability program since 2015, which includes speeches, workshops and documentaries. “The concept that we are now focussing on is that of an expanded museum, which goes beyond its own physical boundaries, and looks to preserve and promote the cultural landscape that it is situated in”, continues Paulo Costa.

“The Eva Klabin Foundation is right behind this initiative, as we see in it a positive use of digital technology as a tool for bringing closer together different and diverse realities, which, in spite of their differences, have shared aims and interests, as is similar to the case of the Eva and Ema Klabin Foundations, created by two sisters, in two different cities: Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo”, says Marcio Doctors, curator of the Rio house-museum.

The Ema Klabin Foundation boasts more than 1500 pieces, brought together by Ema Klabin and originating from four continents and numerous civilizations, with an emphasis on European and Brazilian art, important centres of Asian art, African art, decorative arts, works from Classic Antiquity and the pre-Colombian period, covering a time frame of over 3500 years. Among the works displayed, highlights are paintings by the Russian Marc Chagall and Dutchman Frans Post, from the Brazilian modernists Tarsila do Amaral, Di Cavalcanti, Portinari and Lasar Segal; carvings from Mestre Valentim, period furniture and archaeological and decorative pieces.

Built in the 50s by the architect-engineer Ernesto Becker, the design for the 900 m² residence was based on the Sanssouci Palace, in Potsdam, Germany, and was inaugurated in 1960. Ema Klabin lived there until 1994 and after her death the house came to be the headquarters of the institution which takes her name and brings together her art collection, acquired from galleries and antique dealers the world over.

As well as works of art, the library, which has a three thousand strong collection, is worthy of note. It houses rare books, from illuminated manuscripts to some of the first examples of printed books, as well as the reports of early European travellers to Brazil, from the 16th to the 19th century. Initially, the book collection was cared for under the guidance of the bibliophile José Mindlin.

The Eva Klabin Foundation was created in 1990, one year before the passing away of its conceiver and founder, and officially opened to the public in August 1995. It currently houses Eva Klabin’s (1903-1991) life collection, one of the most important assortments of classic art in a Brazilian museum, containing upwards of 2 thousand individual pieces, which cover almost 50 centuries, from Ancient Egypt up to Impressionism.

Bought by Eva Klabin in 1952, the house dates from 1931, being one of the first residences on the then recently urbanised Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon. Its dimensions were modest and its Norman style was a characteristic fashion of the time, popularly employed by the dwellers of the city’s beach houses. At the beginning of the 60s, already a widow, Eva Klabin decided to totally revolutionize the house and, even though she kept to the original style, her refurbishment endeavoured to increase and adapt the available space, so as to enable it to receive her ever expanding collection. Tasteful and a perfectionist, Klabin demanded the only the finest materials for her project and made sure of all the details of the finishing personally.

Back at the house on the Lagoon, in 1967, she became a great hostess, and immersed herself ever more in her collection. The grain of her idea, of creating an institution that would perpetuate and protect her life’s work and collection, and share it with the public, started to germinate. In the 80s, she surrounded herself with professionals, who got to work on taking stock of her vast collection, whilst also registering the necessary paperwork for the Foundation’s creation. When she passed away, in 1991, she left behind an incalculable, untold fortune for us all, and generations to come.

Ema Klabin Foundation– Monitored Visits and Ema Visita Program

Dates and times: Tuesday to Friday at 2pm, 3pm, 4pm & 5pm.

Show Saturdays: 2pm until 4:30pm.

Bookings: From Monday to Thursday monitored visits must be booked by phone (11) 3897-3232 or via the website http://www.emaklabin.org.br/

On Fridays and Show Saturdays bookings are not required.

Duration: Visits last, on average, 1 hour.

Price: From Tuesday to Thursday: R$ 10 (full price) and R$ 5 (half price), free for teachers.

Fridays and Show Saturdays: Free entry.

Not recommended for children under the age of 7.

Address: Rua Portugal, 43, Jardim Europa, São Paulo.


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