Abstract This article examines new developments taking place in Brazil, which shed light on ways museums can contribute to solving social problems in the twenty-first century. Museums bear the challenge of reinventing the logic of community engagement in increasingly unstable and unequal urban contexts. The Museu da Maré is the first museum to be established in a favela (slum) in Rio de Janeiro. It is a grassroots initiative that connects the memories of neighborhood participants with a philosophy of intense social activism. The article will explore how this museum seeks to organically adapt itself to the social demands of the favela inhabitants and other relevant stakeholders. Particularly interesting are the new ways in which the museum uses exhibitions and collections to foster a symbiotic relationship with the local community.