Lack of funding blamed for massive fire at Brazil’s National Museum

World Today

Flames engulf the 200-year-old National Museum of Brazil, in Rio de Janeiro, Sunday, Sept. 2, 2018. According to its website, the museum has thousands of items related to the history of Brazil and other countries. The museum is part of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

Angry demonstrators gathered Monday at the gates of Brazil’s National Museum, blaming the government for a massive fire that destroyed the entire collection.  

CGTN’s Lucrecia France has the latest.

The beautiful, but decayed 200 year-old building didn’t collapse, but lost its roof and more than twenty million historical items that where engulfed by the flames.

Late on Sunday, after it had closed its doors to the public, a fire broke out. No injuries were reported but the scene was sad and shocking. It was one of the largest natural history museums in the Americas.

“I would say it’s a loss for Brazil , because it’s out history that was stored there, our scientific history, our academic history,” said  Joao Carlos Nara, a professor at Rio de Janeiro’s Federal University.

The collection included dinosaur fossils and historical artifacts from Brazil, Egypt and Greece. The museum also had one of the oldest the oldest human skeletons found in Latin America, known as Luiza.

Though the cause of the fire is still unknown, museum officials said the financial situation was so dire they had to struggle to operate with the bare minimum.

“It is a problem of funding from the federal government for a very long time, and for many, many years. This did not enable us to make the necessary structure interventions in the palace” said the Luiz Fernando Dias Duarte, the Museum’s Deputy director.

The museum dates back to 1818 and once served as the home of the Portuguese royal family, but it fell on hard times. lPresident Michel Temer, who ordered cuts to science and education, tweeted that two hundred years of work, research and knowledge have been lost.”

But many Brazilians maintain the tragedy could have been prevented if the government had released funds to support what it was considered one of Latin America’s cultural jewels.

Marita Bittencourt on treasures destroyed in Brazil museum fire

A massive fire destroyed Brazil’s 200-year-old National Museum. Its collection contained some 20 million items, including many centuries-old artifacts. Journalist Marita Bittencourt discusses with CGTN’s Mike Walter.