1. A world-renowned architect designed it when he was 89

The man in question is Brazilian Oscar Niemeyer, an architect lauded for pushing the limits of concrete. Known as a "modernist concrete poet" and "the king of the curve", the curves in his buildings were inspired from Brazil's nature, as well as their women. The architect — who passed on at the age of 104 in 2012 — was always mentioning the female form in his designs.

Oscar Niemeyer, circa 1970
2. The building's design was reportedly first made on a piece of tablecloth

Four years before the museum's completion in 1996, Niemeyer's first visit to the site was made with then mayor Jorge Roberto Silveira, who took him out to lunch. The architect proceeded to describe his vision of the museum by making his first sketches on a tablecloth in the restaurant.

An aerial view of Niterói Museum of Contemporary Art
3. Surprisingly, UFO and the supernatural didn't inspire the architect.

While the museum does look like a flying saucer poised for take-off, the curvaceous design wasn't inspired by Star Trek-like objects. Instead, the visionary looked to a humble object —the flower — as his muse. The three levels of the main building were to emulate that of a flower rising from the rocks, emerging while continuously growing and spreading. With a 817-square metre reflecting pool called Boa Viagem (or Bon Voyage) surrounding its base, a 98-metre red concrete ramp coils its way to the entrance.

A pool reflects shadows and patterns across the museum's concrete white body

4. Views for days

For the lucky few who'll get to visit the museum during cruise season in May, get your Snapchat and Instagram game on. At 16-metres high and standing on a rocky cliff, you can see Brazil's Guanabara Bay all the way to Sugar Loaf Mountain from the building's visor-like lookout point.

Niterói, Rio de Janeiro’s sister city across the bay

5. It was used as one of the pit stops in The Amazing Race

Remember the days when you'd religiously watch the reality television series? The museum was used as the pit stop for leg 11 of The Amazing Race 18, which aired in 2011. From Switzerland, contestants made their way through Brazil where one of the challenges involved them making 100 caipirinhas. The final clue sent teams to the museum for the pit stop. 

A spacious open courtyard of 2,500 square meters surrounds the building
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