Museu do Homem do Norte (Northern Man Museum) – Manaus, Brazil - Atlas Obscura

Manaus, Brazil

Museu do Homem do Norte (Northern Man Museum)

This anthropological museum offers a glimpse into the lives of the indigenous peoples of the Amazon River Basin. 

Boasting an eclectic collection of more than 2,000 objects, the Museu do Homem do Norte (Northern Man Museum), located at the Centro Cultural dos Povos da Amazônia (Cultural Center of the Peoples of the Amazon) in Manaus, offers a glimpse into the daily lives, work techniques, myths and rites of the diverse Amazonian populations. 

The museum was created by sociologist and anthropologist Gilberto Freyre, and its collection reflects the peculiarities of life in the northern region of Brazil. Outdoor displays feature walk-in, hands-on representations of communal housing in forest villages as well as traditional methods for processing rubber and cassava. Indoor artifacts include ceramic and wooden archaeological sculptures, traditional paintings, and ritual clothing such as full-body, painted tunics made of tree bark that are worn by Amazonian boys to acknowledge the onset of menstruation for their female peers. 

Urban artifacts like Carnaval costumes, electric cable cars, and vintage automobiles are juxtaposed with dugout canoes and foods foraged from the forest such as Brazil nuts and guaraná, a wild berry that contains a caffeine-like substance used in the production of popular local beverages and energy drinks. 

The air-conditioned movie theater, which is named for the photographer Silvino Santos, features a documentary film in English and Portuguese depicting everyday life and ceremonial rituals of indigenous Amazonian tribes.

Know Before You Go

The entrance to this anthropological treasure is inside a big, busy traffic circle, and can be a challenge to find. The museum and cultural center are free, as are guides, which are highly recommended. English-speaking guides may not always be available or highly fluent.

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