"Of course we had no idea that Rio was going to become such a hotspot when this project originated," Herzog said. "But it's, of course, fantastic for us. When it comes to museums, the more the merrier."
Casa Daros' status as a privately financed project distinguishes it from the other new museums, most of which have received funds from municipal or other public coffers. All of the money that's gone into Casa Daros, from the $8 million price tag of the building to the $33.5 million that went into its restoration to the entire operating budget for the foreseeable future, comes from private sources, museum officials said.
The inaugural exhibition, running through Sept. 8, features Colombian painters, photographers, sculptors and videographers from the 1990s and 2000s, a time when the country's drug violence was at a fevered pitch. Standout pieces include a series of faux pre-Columbian clay sculptures featuring Mickey and Minnie Mouse and other Disney characters by Nadin Ospina and a time-lapse video by Juan Manuel Echavarria documenting the decay of a fine porcelain plate into a pile of white powder that looks suspiciously like cocaine.
Herzog said her team chose to focus on Colombia for the initial show because Colombian art is "almost unknown" here in neighboring Brazil, an illustration of the lack of mutual knowledge and understanding among the national art scenes across Latin America that Casa Daros aims to bridge.
"We don't want to be a just another museum," she said. "We want it to be a meeting place from which something more emerges — synergy."