Adjacent to the biblioteca  is yet another imposing neoclassical temple—this one devoted to art. The Museu Nacional de Belas Artes (Av. Rio Branco 199, Centro, tel. 21/2240-0068, www.mnba.gov.br , 10 a.m.–6 p.m. Tues.–Fri., 1–6 p.m. Sat., R$4) housed Rio ’s national school of fine arts before being converted into a somewhat somber museum.
The Museu Nacional de Belas Artes has a modest collection of European works, but you should really focus your attention on the national collection, which provides an excellent overview of 19th- and 20th-century Brazilian painting.
Displayed chronologically, highlights include early- to mid-20th-century painters who, departing from European influences, experimented with new and distinctly Brazilian styles and subject matter. Among those represented are Anita Malfatti, Cândido Portinari, Lasar Segall, and Afredo Volpi.
An interesting gallery displays Brazilian folk art. The Museu Nacional de Belas Artes hosts traveling exhibitions as well.