Casa de Rui Barbosa

Located in Rio de Janeiro, the house museum of Rui Barbosa pays homage to one of Brazil's most prominent jurists and intellectuals of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Inhabited from 1895 until 1923, the year of Rui Barbosa's death, the residence was purchased by the Brazilian government in 1924, together with the vast archives contained in the library. Casa de Rui Barbosa was opened to the public in 1930 and represented the first house museum in Brazil. While other components of the Alternative Climate Control project examined applications to storage areas with limited visitation, Casa de Rui Barbosa presented the unique opportunity to incorporate visitor comfort issues along with the environmental requirements needed for collection conservation and historic building preservation. Except for localized air-conditioning units positioned in working areas (water condensation within wall spaces had been an issue in these areas), interior conditions of the museum remained largely uncontrolled. Open-window ventilation throughout the house had been diminished as several windows, which were once open, were closed to minimize the damaging effects of sunlight and air pollution (gaseous and particulate).

A collaborative effort between the GCI and the Casa de Rui Barbosa Foundation (FCRB), and funded by the Vitae Foundation in São Paulo, installed a GCI-designed climate control system in the library rooms of Casa de Rui Barbosa. Housing the bulk of the book collection on display in the museum, the Constitution, Civil Code, Civilista, and Casamento Civil Rooms also represent the most visited area of Casa de Rui Barbosa.

An article in the Spring 2007 issue of Conservation, the GCI Newsletter describes the project and the climate control strategies developed for the library. The climate system was installed in October 2006 and had a yearlong monitoring and adjustment period. Both the collection and visitor environments have been significantly improved since the installation.

The project concept as well as the design of climate control system were presented at the 12th Annual Congress of the Associação Brasileira de Conservadores e Restauradores de Bens Culturais (ABRACOR) in Fortaleza, Brazil in September 2007.

In conjunction with this collaborative effort, a climate control workshop was conducted at the FCRB in March 2008 for participants from thirteen cultural institutions in Brazil.

Details of the project were presented at the 13th Annual Congress of the Associação Brasileira de Conservadores e Restauradores de Bens Culturais (ABRACOR) Porto Alegre, Brazil, in September 2008, and at PLEA2009, the 26th Conference on Passive and Low Energy Architecture in Quebec City, Canada, 22-24 June 2009 and published in the conference proceedings.

Page updated: December 2010