Fire engulfs National Museum in Brazil

1985 Lola Nissan GTP ZX-Turbo

1985 Lola Nissan GTP ZX-Turbo

One of Brazil's biggest cultural treasures, the National Museum in Rio de Janeiro, has gone up in flames, leaving little more than a charred ruin behind.

A huge fire engulfed Brazil's 200-year-old National Museum in Rio de Janeiro, lighting up the night sky with towering flames as firefighters and museum workers raced to save historical relics from the blaze.

"Two hundred years of work and research and knowledge are lost".

The building was initially built as the palace for the royal family back in 1818 but has operated as a museum since 1982.

Waziry added that the antiquities ministry stands in complete solidarity with the National Museum of Brazil, and that it is ready to make available the needed expertise to restore the ancient artefacts in the museum, if the Brazilian government requests it.

The cause is not known, but Culture Minister Sergio Sa Leitao was quoted in Brazilian media as saying it may have been ignited by a small paper hot air balloon landing on the roof.

A deputy director at the museum, Luiz Fernando Dias Duarte, expressed "immense anger", and accused Brazilian authorities of a "lack of attention".

Firefighters removed remnants of artifacts and paintings that survived the fire.

Kellner said the institution had recently secured approval for money for a planned renovation, including an upgrade of the fire-prevention system. And now the building is literally falling apart.

It is not clear what caused the blaze.

The now-destroyed building housing the museum was the lovely Saint Christopher's Palace, once home to the Brazilian Imperial Family.

The museum's decline did not happen overnight, said Renato Rodriguez Cabral, a teacher in the geology and paleontology department.

The museum held Latin America's largest collection of historical and scientific artifacts, and officials suggested that the damage could be catastrophic, with one official telling a Brazilian news outlet that as much as 90 per cent may have been destroyed.

There were no reports of injuries, but the loss to Brazilian science, history and culture was incalculable, two of its vice-directors said.

The museum housed 20 million items, including objects that tell the story of Brazil's past: the first fossil discovered there, the oldest female skull found in the Americas and the nation's largest meteorite.

"We never got anything from the federal government", he said.

The museum had a budget of around $130,000 after incremental budget cuts over several years, which resulted in almost a third of galleries being closed. "It goes beyond 'a sad day, '" Brent Glass, director emeritus of the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History, told NPR.

The Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ) managed the museum with funds from the federal government, and many scientists blamed chronic underfunding for the disaster.

Recommended News

We are pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news.
Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper.
Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.