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The Imperial Court in Praça XV, Centro began as the main residence of Governor Gomes Freire de Andrade in 1743, before becoming the seat of power of the Portuguese Royal Family until the declaration of independence. The historic importance of the building finally recognised once more in the 1980s, it underwent a comprehensive restoration to become a key cultural centre for seminars, live music and theatre, the first protected building to be converted for cultural purposes in Brazil.
Today there is a permanent exhibition on the ground-floor taking visitors through the history of the building and a homage to the country's greatest architects - all very fitting for a building in which modernity and classical features sit together in unison, particularly following the latest revamp in 2011. With a hundred-year retrospective of Brazilian art the first display since the reopening, plans are already afoot for an exhibition of Lucian Freud's work in 2012. A well-stocked book, music and dvd shop with a small café can also be found inside.