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In the city of Niterói, just a short ferry ride from Rio proper, the Museu de Arte Contemporânea peeks out from the nondescript cityscape, a jumble of luxury high-rises, working-class bairros, and semi-anonymous megaplex shopping malls along the polluted beaches of Guanabara Bay. But for all these tourist attractions, Niterói's reputation rests instead on its assortment of buildings designed by legendary architect Oscar Neimeyer that pop-up throughout the city.
Arguably none is more iconic than the home of the Museu de Arte Contemporânea, perched on a green escarpment overlooking the water on a single thick pillar, the round white structure with its ethereally snakey entrance ramp, looks and is sited so much like a UFO that it'd be silly to describe it otherwise (and no cursory account really does). The building was completed in 1996, which makes it only slightly less strange, than if it had been built in Neimeyer’s '60s Brasilia heyday.