The Arquivos Históricos de Arte Contemporânea [Historical Archives of Contemporary Art] were founded in 1954 by Wanda Svevo, then General Secretary of the Museu de Arte Moderna de São Paulo (MAM-SP), to meet local demand for information on contemporary art and provide documental support for new editions of the Bienal. The Archives were officially opened in 1955 with the aim of becoming a centre of reference on 20th-century art.

In 1963, the Archives were renamed after their founder and, as the years went by, became one of the most important centers of documentation on artistic output throughout the 20th century. In 1993, the Wanda Svevo Historical Archives were listed by the São Paulo State Historical, Artistic, Archaeological and Touristic Heritage Protection Agency (Condephaat) as cultural patrimony of historical interest, due to the material under its protection.

The criteria adopted for the organisation of the Bienal Archive – as it is known today – has as its base the history of the Fundação Bienal de São Paulo and the events it helds, with special reference to the origins, production processes and activities they perform: 


  • Francisco Matarazzo Sobrinho: Collection of documents from the former Francisco Matarazzo Sobrinho Cultural Center, spanning the period 1880 to 1981. The collection includes the Bienal founder’s personal correspondence and administrative documents related to his activities at MAM-SP, the Fundação Bienal and other institutions. 
  • MAM: Documents relating to the creation of the Museu de Arte Moderna de São Paulo and its activities during its first years, including the development of the first exhibitions. The collection spans the period 1948 to 1962, when the Fundação Bienal de São Paulo was created. 
  • Fundação Bienal de São Paulo: Documentation on the editions of the Bienal and other events realized by the Fundação Bienal from 1962 to the present day. The collection includes artist submission forms, photographs, expography layouts, posters and administrative documents.


  • Dossiers on Artists and Art Themes: Documentation on artists, architects, curators, critics and art historians, as well as art-related themes, institutions and galleries among others.
  • Hemerotheque: Cutouts from Brazilian and foreign newspapers and magazines containing articles or write-ups about the Bienal de São Paulo and other Foundation events. 
  • Library: Collection based on vast curatorial research for the Art and Architecture biennials, as well as documentation on loans and donations from other institutions. This collection includes titles on art history, art criticism, art and artistic education, artist catalogues and the catalogues to editions of the Bienal and other major exhibitions in Brazil and abroad.

Continuing our collections treatment projects, the Arquivo Bienal is conducting an inventory of its historical documentation from March 2015 to December 2016. Therefore, the customer services will be limited and local consultations will be restricted during this period.

Research enquiries will be received only by the e-mail, evaluated and answered according to the possibilities of access to the materials. We will make all efforts to provide information whenever is possible.

We apologize for any inconvenience and appreciate your understanding. The Bienal Archive is confident that this project will bring considerable improvement to access to the collections and research services.

Bienal Archive
Parque Ibirapuera – Gate 3
Pavilhão Ciccillo Matarazzo (Bienal Pavillion) – 2º floor
04094-000 – São Paulo – SP
T. +55 11 5576 7635