Bandits & Heroes introduces the complex mixing of European, African and Amerindian influences that make up the rich culture of the northeast, with a special emphasis on the contributions of Africa.

As many as six million enslaved Africans worked in plantations, constructed colonial cities and labored in mines over a period of three hundred years. Their lives and traditions are felt today in the culture of the northeast, where the rhythms of Africa are felt in the music of the streets and food is still flavored with African spices. The exhibition also confronts visitors with the rugged and inhospitable landscape of the sertão (dry backlands), and introduces the challenging life of the vaqueiros (cowboys), retirantes (migrant farmers and workers) and Nordestinos, the proud inhabitants of the Northeast of Brazil.