Fire devastates museum in Brazil

Guardian graphic. Image: Google Earth. Source: Museu Nacional

A fire has completely destroyed the 200-year old National Museum in Rio de Janeiro. Once the home of Brazil’s monarch, the palace became the largest history museum in Latin America. Its collections included art and artifacts of indigenous peoples, as well as Egyptian and Greco-Roman works, fossils, and so much more.


5 thoughts on “Fire devastates museum in Brazil

  1. Caleigh Sullivan

    On of the most striking aspect of this article for me was a quote from Mércio Gomes that reads, “‘We Brazilians only have 500 years of history. Our National Museum was 200 years old, but that’s what we had, and what is lost forever… We have to reconstruct our National Museum.’” That is so moving to me, that only after 300 years of existence, a National Museum was established. For 200 years, this museum has been collecting artifacts and held “impressive collections” including “items brought to Brazil by Dom Pedro I – the Portuguese prince regent who declared the then-colony’s independence from Portugal.”
    Museums across the world experience low funding and the challenges that come with that. Brazil is no exception. In the article, it states, “‘For many years we fought with different governments to get adequate resources to preserve what is now completely destroyed.’” Here’s where it gets really interesting. Sources said that the museum “had just closed a deal with the Brazilian government;s development bank, BNDES, for funds that included a fire prevention project.” Considering the cause of the fire is still unknown, the fire leaves me wondering what really happened. The museum was reported to be left lacking in funds and clearly needed some preventative measures for protection of the building and objects. But for it to completely burn just after a deal with Brazilian government’s development bank? During a nationwide recession? Suspicious.

  2. Desiree Liggan

    This fire consumed a part of history that cannot be restored or reproduced. It is imperative to preserve the cultivating makes that contributed to our civilization today. If there was ever a question on when and how we can strive toward preventive safety measures that encompass preserving natural history. The artifacts shared by Dom Pedrol I is commended for his courage. Declaring independence from a country required sacrifice, and commited belief that a better tomorrow could be established by announcing its independence. Perhaps the this is an innovative opportunity to rebuild or provide technological advances to preserve natural history and the arts. Devestatinly, these treasures will no longer be gazed upon or admired; the fascination of discovery must still persist.

  3. Terra Dickinson

    It is a real tragedy that Brazil’s museum burned down. So much was lost, not just artworks. Extinct culture’s whole history was inscribed in papers that were held in the museum. Luzia, one of the oldest human skulls was lost to the fire as well. It wasn’t just Brazil’s culture that was stored in the museum, there were Egyptian artifacts and even some from Alaskan tribes of long ago. The museum itself is a historic place too. It was the old palace of Brazil’s royalty at one time. The only thing that I read that actually survived was the meteorite.

    It really makes a person think that fires can happen to any museum and that historic artifacts just like anything else isn’t going to always be around. It’s a sad thing to say but nothing lasts forever no matter if it’s well taken care of. That’s not to say to not have fire safety installed in your museums, but it is something to think about.

  4. Tai Frazier

    I can’t really articulate the immense sorrow I felt at hearing this news. The fact that I’m still shaken by it several weeks later only serves to highlight the fact. You don’t typically think of a museum as being a place prone to fire or disaster; they’re chunks of time suspended for all the world to see and appreciate the events and cultures we came from.

    I found a statement from the museum staff that all but begged people to share their photos from their trips to this museum, as those pictures are very much the sole reminders of the rich history held within that museum’s walls. We often talk about ‘the ghosts of the past’ and history ‘haunting’ us, and I think in the case of those pictures it’s particularly apt; that part of the past is now twice-dead, preserved in the smallest of glimpses through someone else’s lives.

    It’s heartbreaking, it really is.

  5. Katie Mick

    This is truly upsetting- art was destroyed in Brazil. This art took forever to restore and to get hands on. It is a part of history that has now been erased. We can never get it back and it is heartbreaking, Nobody really thinks this could happen to a museum which makes me wonder if we have good fire safety establishments in our own museums. This article was not only upsetting, but a big eye opener.


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