Walking down the Rua da Misericórdia, past the new City Hall, you’ll pass the Santa Casa da Misericórdia (Rua da Misericórida 6, tel. 71/3322-7355, 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Mon.–Fri., 1–5 p.m. Sun., R$5). A religious complex dating from 1549, it was converted into a museum in 2003 as part of an ongoing project to renovate the architectural treasures on this strip. A permanent exhibition of artwork, religious objects, and furniture from the 17th century conjures up Salvador ’s colonial history, as do its magnificent cloisters, church, and living quarters.
Across the street is the small, but not-to-be-missed Galeria Fundação Pierre Verger (Portal da Misericórdia 9, tel. 71/3321-2341, www.pierreverger.org , open daily, free), which shows the unforgettable black-and-white photographs of French photographer, ethnographer, and adopted Bahian, Pierre Verger. Born into a wealthy Parisian milieu in which he never felt at home, in 1932, at the age of 30, Verger turned his back on la vie mondaine and took off to explore the world.
With a camera in hand to fund his journeys (his pictures were subsequently published in Life, Paris Match, and many other major magazines), he traveled throughout Asia, Africa, and the Americas. However, in Bahia  he felt an especially strong bond that kept on luring him back for decades until he finally settled there. He ultimately became a professor specializing in the African diaspora as well as a Candomblé initiate.
In fact, in the 1940s, Verger was one of the first people permitted to make photographic records of mysterious (and often prohibited) Candomblé rituals. However, his other elegantly composed, yet highly sensual portraits of Salvador’s sailors, fishermen, capoeiristas, Carnaval  merrymakers, circus performers, and other Bahians from all walks of life offer precious and moving glimpses of a past world.
In Salvador , the nonprofit Pierre Verger Foundation houses more than 63,000 photographs and negatives. Of these, the gallery exhibits a small, but impressive rotating collection. The small gift store has terrific Verger T-shirts and handbags.