The National Museum of Brazil in Rio.
HALLEY PACHECO DE OLIVEIRA/WIKIMEDIA
On Sunday evening in Rio de Janeiro, after visiting hours, a major fire broke out in the National Museum of Brazil, which houses a vast array of items related to natural history and other disciplines, according to the Rio Times, Reuters, and numerous other outlets.
The cause of the fire was not publicly known as of early Monday morning but video footage and media reports appeared to show widespread damage to the institution, which was founded in 1818. The Rio Times said that the fire had consumed the entire structure, which is located in the city’s Quinta da Boa Vista park.
The museum houses a sprawling collection that includes artifacts and specimens related to botany, paleontology, geology, and archaeology, from ancient Egypt, Greece, and elsewhere, as well as a large scientific library. In total, it reportedly holds some 20 million objects.
Brazil’s president, Michel Temer, wrote in Portuguese on Twitter, that the event marked “a sad day for all Brazilians,” according to the New York Times, and that “the loss of the National Museum collection is incalculable for Brazil.” The Times noted that the oldest human fossil from the region, of a woman referred to Luzia, is also part of the museum’s holdings.
The vice-director for the museum, Luiz Duarte, said in an interview with a local outlet on Sunday night, according to Reuters, that the museum had been poorly funded for years, and that its leadership had recently worked out a deal with a state development bank “for a massive investment, so that we could finally restore the palace and, ironically, we had planned on a new fire prevention system.”
The museum is housed in the Paço de São Cristóvão, which was home to the Brazilian imperial family for much of the 19th century. It moved into the building shortly after the monarchy was deposed in 1889 in a coup d’état that transitioned the country into a republic.
This post will be updated as more information becomes available.
This article was written by cool news network.