Despite its location in a historic building in the heart of São Paulo’s city center, the Museu da Tatuagem is little known relative to the wealth of museums and galleries around town. Those who do stop in for a visit are rarely disappointed.
São Paulo’s Tattoo Museum is a celebration of body art, covering the history and evolution of tattoos in Brazil and beyond. Among the collection of more than 500 items are photos, paintings, sculptures, and intriguing objects like ancient tools and DIY machines made in Brazilian and Russian prisons.
The museum was founded in 2004 during the first ever São Paulo Tattoo Festival by one of the city’s pioneer tattoo artists, Elcio Sespede, also known as Polaco. It has become a renowned tattoo shop, drawing plenty of inspiration from the gritty streets and creativity of São Paulo.
In his collection, Polaco focus on how cultures use tattoos to represent who they are and what distinguishes them socially. There is also an interesting overview of what tattoos represented worldwide and in Brazilian culture throughout the decades. The museum devotes a display to the first tattoo artist in Brazil, Knud Harald Lykke Gregersen, better known as “Lucky Tattoo,” who arrived in Brazil in 1959 and introduced electric machines to the country.
A visit will stay with you whether or not you decide this will be the day you’ll finally get a tattoo.
Know Before You Go
Located a short distance midway between São Bento metro station (on the blue line) and República metro station (on the red line).