Brazil Mourns Loss Of Its National Museum

03 September, 2018, 17:41 | Author: Sheila Harris
  • Brazil museum fire

One of the largest anthropology and natural history collections in the Americas was nearly totally destroyed in Sunday's fire in Rio de Janeiro.

The museum, located in the city's north near the Maracana football stadium, was closed to the public when the fire sparked from a yet unknown cause.

Television footage showed the fierce flames light up the night sky, as thick plumes of smoke rose out of the burning building.

The National Museum of Brazil houses more than 20 million items, ranging from archaeological findings to historical memorabilia.

In a statement, President Michel Temer said it was "a sad day for all Brazilians".

The vice director of the museum, Luiz Fernando Dias Duarte, told Globo news the museum suffered chronic underfunding.

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Firefighters were working to put out the large flames at the National Museum in northern Rio de Janeiro.

In a statement posted on its website in June, BNDES agreed to financing of 21.7 million reais ($5.35 million) to "physically restore the historic building" and also to carry out work to "guarantee more security to its collections". No injuries have been reported so far, and authorities do not yet know the reason for the conflagration, which is still being extinguished by firefighters, according to the Estado de Sao Paulo.

The National Museum also held one of the best collections of indigenous literature and artefacts in the world.

Some of the priceless items in the museum's collection included a meteorite found in 1784, a 12,000-year-old skeleton and fossils of dinosaurs. The building served as a palace for the Portuguese Royal Family and later for the Brazilian Imperial Family.

"For many years we fought with different governments to get adequate resources to preserve what is now completely destroyed", he said. "It is 200 years of culture, of education".

Senator Lindbergh Faris of the country's leftist Workers' Party hit out at the institution's lack of funding and blamed it on spending cuts ordered by the government.

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