National Museum of Brazil destroyed by fire along with most of its collections 11/9/2018

The 200 year old National Museum of Brazil in Rio de Janeiro has been destroyed by fire along with around 90% of the 20 million items it contained relating to natural history and ethnography. It was one of the largest museums of its kind in South America.  It is not yet known what caused the fire, but underfunding has been blamed for a lack of sprinklers in the museum, and firefighters with ‘no water, no ladders, no equipment’. The museum’s Vice Director Luiz Duarte told reporters “it is an unbearable catastrophe. It is 200 years of this country’s heritage. It is 200 years of memory. It is 200 years of science. It is 200 years of culture, of education.” Professor Paul Buckup who is an expert in fish science, told reporters that he arrived after the fire was underway to find parts of the building with animal specimens still intact. With colleagues and soldiers, he helped break down doors to rescue some items. A few objects, notably meteorites, survived the fire itself. There has been public anger at the underinvestment that enabled the destruction, and a demonstration against budget cuts took place outside the museum the following day. Among the probable losses is ‘Luiza’, the oldest human remains found in the Americas and an ethnology collection including pre-Colombian items. The museum has published a number of ways to help on its Facebook page - any institution interested in offering specific support should contact [email protected]. BBC, Arts Journal(translation of Facebook page) BBC, Guardian, The Art Newspaper, Museums Journal