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Paula Azevedo, Lucas Pessôa, and Julieta González. Photo: Brendon Campo.
Paula Azevedo, Lucas Pessôa, and Julieta González. Photo: Brendon Campo.

Brazil’s Inhotim Institute Announces New Leadership

Brazil’s Inhotim Institute, the largest outdoor museum in Latin America, has announced the appointment of a new leadership team. Lucas Pessôa has been named president and director of the institute; Paula Azevedo will serve as vice president, deputy director, and head of development; and Julieta González will take over as artistic director. The leadership change is intended to expand the museum’s social outreach and reflects Inhotim’s stated intention to center its artistic and educational program around ecology. Antonio Grassi, under whose direction Inhotim expanded its cultural program, will continue as managing director through December before assuming a consultatory role in January, working from Lisbon.

Pessôa, a lawyer by training, was previously general director of Recife, Brazil’s Oficina Brennand, and before that served as finance and operations director of MASP, São Paulo, during a major reorganization of the institution. Azevedo spent years managing private collections before assuming the post of director of institutional relations and governance at Instituto Tomie Ohtake in São Paulo earlier this year, while González has worked as a curator at major institutions including Tate Modern, London; MASP; Museo Tamayo, Mexico City; the Bronx Museum, New York; and Museo de Bellas Artes de Caracas.

Located in Brumhadino, near the city of Belo Horizonte in the central Brazilian state of Minas Gerais, Inhotim was established in 2006 by mining magnate and contemporary art collector Bernardo de Mello Paz, who privately funded the museum and botanical garden. Thanks to its 5,000-acre footprint, the art park is able to host monumental works that might typically be hard to show elsewhere; it is additionally home to Paz’s personal collection, which features works by more than sixty artists from thirty-eight countries and includes works by Doug Aitken, Carroll Dunham, Cristina Iglesias, Hélio Oiticica, Lygia Pape, and Adriana Varejão, among others.

In 2013, Brazil’s Federal Public Ministry filed a complaint charging Paz with funneling more than $95 million raised for Inhotim into Itaminas, a conglomerate of twenty-nine mining and steel companies he ran, via an overseas account shortly after the museum opened. Paz was found guilty of money laundering in 2017: Sentenced to nearly a decade in prison, he was unanimously acquitted in 2020.