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About the Museum


The Museum of Reductions is the accomplishment of the dream of four siblings, born in the first decades of the last century, in the town of Campanha, south Minas Gerais. Ênnio, Décio, Evangelina and Sylvia trod their paths throughout their lives, living in different cities and exercising different professional activities.

Ênnio settled in Juiz de Fora, where he worked for 35 years at Banco de Crédito Real de Minas Gerais, until retiring. He lived there until his last days.

Décio settled up in Rio de Janeiro, working as a commercial pilot and director of PanAir Brazil, until his demise, when he moved to Lisbon and joined Transportes Aéreos Portugueses (TAP). He retired and returned to his homeland, Campanha, where he spent the last years of his life. Sylvia, also an official of Banco de Crédito Real de Minas Gerais, and Evangelina, an official of the State of Minas Gerais, Minas Gerais, settled in Belo Horizonte, working until retirement for Banco de Crédito Real de Minas Gerais and the State of Minas Gerais, respectively. Both lived there until their death.

Endowed with enormous manual skills, with great artistic sensibility and great disposition, the Vilhena Siblings, as they are affectionately known, teamed up to make a life project reality: to leave an artistic and cultural legacy of great value. Thus, shortly after the retirements, already fully available, they began planning the implementation of the Reduction Project, a theme park based on similar existing parks in the world, but with one major difference: a collection that was significantly Brazilian, totally handmade (with the same materials employed in the original construction) and fully executed by them, and only the four. To this end, they based themselves on a replica of the Church of Dores, from Campanha, which Ênnio had just made as a hobby.

They contacted the Secretaries of State for Culture of the Brazilian States, seeking indications of local representative architectural monuments that could be reproduced. The many departments who responded to the call provided to the Vilhena Siblings a rich universe of research and work to be developed. Armed, then, with a large data-sheet of architectural monuments from the four corners of Brazil (about 52), they began to travel the country, always with their own resources, in order to photograph, measure and draw the most diverse national architectural relics, worrying about every detail of the buildings, which were carefully chosen, taking into account the representation, size, richness of detail, plastic beauty, materials employed and diversity of the nature of the buildings: churches, palaces and palazzos, forts, colonial mansions, ordinary houses, farms, lofts, mills, and so on. When the phase of surveys, research and settings was accomplished, the Vilhena Siblings began to work on defining an appropriate venue to host the park, then named Reduction Project, with its deployment in the region of Campanha, in south Minas Gerais, emerging as first natural choice. The option was quickly dismissed due to the bad moment that the Water Circuit was undergoing, as to the tourist flow needed to maintain the project, a factor that eventually directed the focus to the Ouro Preto region, the main tourist destination of the State.Alongside these definitions, the Vilhena Siblings began the complex production of replicas, already installed on the district of Amarantina, in the city of Ouro Preto, in a simple and humble home, right in the center of the town. They eventually acquired a large property of 6.000m² with their own resources, in the then rural area of the hamlet, on a newly launched condo, ere they would raise the final building that would house the replicas. The Museum of Reductions begun, in fact, to emerge then.A team of boys living in the district was soon set upR03;R03; for the easiest tasks, such as producing small tiles, bricks, small trims, etc., in a real campaign for citizenship, since, in addition to learning the craft, the boys received basic instructions such as personal hygiene, oral health, etiquette, citizenship, etc., and also school supplies, clothes, shoes and financial aid, which greatly marked the action of the Vilhena Siblings in the district of Amarantina.The construction technique, the various forms, the tools and much of the trim labor were duties of Ênnio, the chief craftsman. Décio, holder of great intellectual capacity, beyond the huge manual skills, made true wooden jewelry, such as balusters and cannons circumvented by hand, padded doors, trusses, shutters, windows and door frames, etc., and he was also incumbent on the more rational work such as calculations, scales, designs and plants. Sylvia, the dreamiest of them, was responsible for the first drawings, paintings, sculptures in soapstone, and goldsmiths’ work, with small chisels, brushes and others. Evangelina, the counterbalance, was a great manager. She took care of the staff, the payments, the structure of the house, the food, the trips, the photographic shooting, and with her strong personality, she would mitigate the constant conflicts, typical of the temperaments of the great artists.As the replicas were produced and completed, the need to expand the small spaces in the house they lived arose, which led to the lease of another house, near the land where the museum would be installed, which functioned as a deposit of materials and ready disassembled replicas. In parallel, they initiated the construction of the building that would house the museum, a modern conception designed by Décio. As the need for financial resources grew, a real journey started in search of sponsorship, and the constant failures were not able to discourage the four siblings, who worked hard to bear the costs of the great work. 

But then a light coming from Germany, through Lateinamerika Zentrum e.v, from Bonn (LAZ), changed the whole picture. Thanks to the personal intervention of the Chairman, the German Deputy Hermann Gorgen, the entity approved non-refundable financial support of 90 000 DM to the Reduction Project.With this resource, combined with new small donations made by Banco Crefisul S/A, Banco Bamerindus do Brasil S/A, Divinal Vidros, Vidraçaria Catarina and Alba Química S/A, beyond resources of the family, the main building and the small building that would house the School of Craft took shape, and then the Museum of Reductions was born... With it, the School of Crafts came to life, where girls and ladies of the community, for about four years, learned sewing, knitting and crochet, design, bamboo arts, etc., adding a large social content to the original design.

On March 26, 1994, the big moment arrived. The then Mayor of Ouro Preto, Angelo Oswaldo de Araujo Santos, today (2014) President of the Brazilian Institute of Museums (IBRAM), a great supporter of the work of the Vilhena Siblings, in the presence of most of the Vilhena family and of local, regional, state and national authorities, as well as the community of Amarantina, Ouro Preto and region, cut the inaugural ribbon and delivered the Museum of Reductions to the cultural and tourist trade of Ouro Preto, Minas Gerais, Brazil and the world.During the first ten years, from 1994 to 2004, the Museum of Reductions experienced all the playful nature of the management of the artists themselves, already delighting thousands of visitors, but with no major ambitions. From 2004, with the passing of Evangelina, came the seclusion of Sylvia, and the museum now was managed by its administrative and financial director, Carlos Alberto Xavier de Vilhena, son of Ênnio, who abandoned a successful career as a senior executive in the financial market to settle definitely in Amarantina and continue the work of the family. With a truly shock management, he optimized the running of the house and gave visibility to the work through aggressive marketing policy, culminating in the recognition obtained from Guia 4 Rodas Brasil, 2006, which elected the Museum of Reductions the Best Attraction in Brazil in the Artistic Contribution category, a title continued until the present day, due to the non-appearance of new awards in the category. During this period, the museum reported an average attendance of over 2,000 visitors a month.Despite the difficult times that followed, the museum attracted important investors and partners who repositioned it on track toward success reserved to it. We quote, as milestones, the effective participation in the founding of the Museums System of Ouro Preto, the sponsorship of Transcotta Ltd., Microcity Computers and Systems Ltd., EMTEL Ltd., CEMIG, CEMIG TELECOM and GERDAU, besides the firm partnership with the National Institute of Development and Cultural Integration (INDIC) in the execution of heritage education projects.The participation of Professor Terezinha Lobo Leite, specialist in heritage education in Ouro Preto, also deserves special mention. In a fantastic retelling of the museum collection, she practically rediscovered it as an inexhaustible source of knowledge in mathematics, history, geography, sciences and arts. From the replicas, elementary students have received information and knowledge relevant to the cause of preservationist awareness and to the development of a sense of belonging, contributing to the emergence of a generation committed to the preservation of our memory and out historical, material and immaterial heritage, all associated with the corresponding curriculum subjects.Finally, this way, the Museum of Reductions has been acknowledged by authorities, intellectuals, artists, large enterprises and the general public as a major tourist, cultural and educational equipment, making Ouro Preto, Minas Gerais and Brazil proud of it.The Museum of Reductions, with its context, is unique and attracts the public with the visual beauty of its replicas, the fidelity and richness of details, providing viewers the same excitement they would feel before the original monuments. It differs from other theme parks in the world due to the design of its replicas, made R03;R03;with the same materials used in the original manufacture, without industrialized and/or synthetic products.


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