The Wall Street Journal takes an in-depth look at Brazilian mining magnate Bernardo Paz’s Inhotim project south-west of the city of Belo Horizonte.
Senhor Paz, a high-school dropout who worked as a gas station attendant, in a clothing boutique and also tried his hand at stockbroking eventually made his fortune in Brazil’s historical mining district of Minas Gerais.
The reclusive Paz bought a struggling iron ore mine in 1973, turned it around by treating workers better and according to the WSJ article became one of the first to see the potential of China, signing export deals as far back as the 1980s when he was leading Itaminas, Brazil’s second largest iron ore miner behind Vale.
Founder of Inhotim is Bernardo Paz, a mining magnate and high-school dropout
Uncharacteristically, the WSJ speculates that “First World visitors might assume that Inhotim reflects a twinge of guilt on the part of Paz, who, after all, made his fortune in mining,” but then quickly counters this assertion through a friend of Paz who “says: There’s not too much suffering about it. Inhotim is a positive response to the mining.”
The writer, Tony Perrottet, sets up the rather breathless 5,000-word piece this way:
But as I finally approach the entrance to Senhor Paz’s gated oasis, Inhotim (pronounced In-yo-cheem), this rustic backwater is instantly transformed into an enclave of cosmopolitan taste. This 5,000-acre cultural Eden—created over the last decade with Paz’s profits from selling iron ore to China—has emerged as one of the world’s largest, strangest and most thrilling adventures in contemporary art. Although it is often referred to as an “outdoor museum,” the term is not even close to defining Inhotim’s ambitious repertoire. It’s also a botanical garden, spiritual retreat, scientific research station, cultural center and a futuristic Brazilian answer to the bucolic artistic follies of 18th-century Europe.
Inhotim is built on 5,000 acres
Paz plans to build a hotel near the collection and lofts for those who want to live near the exhibit
Inhotim has over 500 works
In 2011, it attracted nearly 250,000 visitors from all over the world