200 YEARS OF HISTORY CONSUMED BY THE FIRE
September 2 marked a tragic day for the Brazilian and world cultural heritage: the National Museum of Brazil, located in the center of Rio de Janeiro was devoured by flames. According to the statement of officials and members of the museum, this was a foreseeable tragedy given the budget cuts that the museum had been suffering for years.
Founded in 1818 by King Juan VI of Portuugal, the National Museum of Brazil had one of the most important collections in relation to the natural sciences. After the fire, it is estimated that more than 90% of the collection was consumed by fire.
Among the most regrettable losses, the directors pointed to Luzia's skeleton, the oldest human remains ever found in South America (approximately twelve thousand years), an archaeological collection of fossils from the dinosaur era and a collection of Greco-Roman art.
While everyone laments the loss of one of the richest global heritages of the natural sciences, the deputy director of the museum admitted that it was something foreseeable: the building had suffered a gradual series of cuts, in addition to the leaks and lack of resources that the infrastructure already had.
However, after neglect, fire, anger and lament, the reconstruction of the museum is already on the political agenda. Education Minister Rosieli Soares and Culture Minister Sergio Sá Leitao, spokesmen for the tragedy, announced the immediate reconstruction through three phases.
First, USD 2.4 million will be allocated to the physical and structural repair of the National Museum. Once the building is recovered, another USD 1.2 million will be deposited to finance a reconstruction project not yet defined. Finally, with the collaboration of Unesco and public organizations of the South American country, President Michel Temer declared that a budget will be defined to constitute a new collection.
On the one hand, it is undoubtedly an unfortunate scene for history of art and natural sciences that will be recorded in the collective unconscious of Brazilian society. On the other hand, it is an alert to have more errands regarding the care that these type of institutions require, often relegated to a second plane on the political agenda by national governments.