03.09.2018 - UNESCO Office in Brasilia

UNESCO in Brazil regrets fire at the National Museum

UNESCO in Brazil regrets the incalculable loss to culture, science and natural history as a result of the fire in the National Museum in Rio de Janeiro last night (02 September, 2018).

One of the most important scientific and anthropological institutions in Latin America, with over 20 million items in its collection, was destroyed by the fire. This loss represents the greatest tragedy for Brazilian culture in recent times. It exposes the fragility of the national mechanisms for preserving the cultural assets. The tragedy is added to other significant losses in Brazilian museums taken place in previous years, such as the Instituto Butantã (2010), the Latin American Memorial (2013), the Portuguese Language Museum (2015) and the Cinemateca (2016). 

In November 2015, with the support of Brazil, the 38th session of the General Conference of UNESCO adopted the Recommendation concerning the Protection and Promotion of Museums and Collections, their Diversity and their Role in Society, which has been widely disseminated in the country. It was a movement for the protection of museums throughout the world since they are "institutions that seek to represent the cultural and natural diversity of humanity, assuming an essential role in the protection, preservation and transmission of heritage."

"It is imperative that such Recommendation is implemented immediately to prevent such tragedies from occurring, thereby jeopardizing the national culture and its memory in an irreparable way," regrets the Director and Representative of UNESCO in Brazil, Marlova Jovchelovitch Noleto.

Brazil has suffered an irreversible damage to one of its most valuable assets. It was not only a cultural mean, but also a place dedicated for teaching and for research studies. Besides that, the Museum building was a historical monument. It was the official residence of the Portuguese Royal Family upon their arrival in the country in the nineteenth century. 

UNESCO in Brazil expresses its solidarity with the Brazilian nation, the scientific and cultural communities, and the staff and researchers of the National Museum for this dramatic loss. At the same time, the Representation is fully available to the Brazilian authorities to minimize the effects of this tragedy, and to contribute in the consolidation of a public policy for protecting museums and their collections.

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