The Museu de Arte do Rio drives a transversal reading of the history of the city, its social fabric, its symbolic life, conflicts, contradictions, challenges, and expectations. Its exhibitions bring together historical and contemporary art dimensions through long- and short-term national and international exhibitions. The museum also comes with the mission of inserting art in public education through the Escola do Olhar.

MAR is installed at Praça Mauá, in two buildings with heterogeneous and interconnected profiles: The Dom João VI Mansion, listed and eclectic, and the neighboring building, which has a modernist style and was originally a bus terminal. The Mansion houses the museum's exhibition halls.

The neighboring building houses the Escola do Olhar, which is an environment for production and provocative experiences, collective and personal, with a main focus on training educators from public schools.

As recommended by UNESCO, MAR has activities that involve collecting, recording, researching, preserving and returning cultural property to the community - in the form of exhibitions, catalogs, and multimedia and educational programs. With its own collection - now being formed through acquisitions and donations that match its schedule - MAR also borrowed works from some of the finest public and private collections in Brazil in order to implement its program.

Inaugurated in March 2013, MAR serves as a proactive space of support to education and works in partnership with the Rio de Janeiro Municipal Education Department and other departments of Education. The Escola do Olhar develops an academic program, built in collaboration with universities, to discuss art, the culture of image, education and curatorial practices.

The project is an initiative of the Rio de Janeiro City Hall and the Roberto Marinho Foundation, with Vale and Globo as Sponsors, and with support from the Government of the State of Rio de Janeiro and the Ministry of Culture, through the Federal Law for the Encouragement of Culture.