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.

MAR is a project conceived and implemented by the Rio de Janeiro City Hall and Fundação Roberto Marinho. It has Grupo Globo as a maintainer,  as well as co-sponsorship from Souza CruzSistema Fecomércio RJ/SESC and Banco Votorantim as support for the Escola do Olhar, BNDES as support for exhibitions, Itaú as support for 18th Century Rio, when Rio became the capital,  Grupo Libra as support for educational visits and TIM as support for MAR de Música. It also counts on support from the Government of the State of Rio de Janeiro. This is a project of the Ministry of Culture and the Federal Government of Brazil, through the Federal Incentive for Culture Law. Management is the responsibility of Instituto Odeon