By Harold Emert
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – While the millionaires and billionaires rush to help rebuild the Notre Dame, the National Museum of Brazil is begging for help.
Lily Safra, the widow of banker Edmond Safra, has donated a total of R$88 million towards the reconstruction of the French cathedral – and zero to rebuild the destroyed museum in her homeland.
Seven months after the fire that burned Rio’s version of the New York Museum of Natural History to the ground, only R$1.1 million has been donated to rebuild it.
The Notre Dame has gained far more support, receiving R$ 4 billion so far with more expected to come soon.
Nevermind that, according to National Museum of Brazil director Alexander Kellner, the museum’s lost archives represent a greater loss to humanity than that of the Notre Dame.
The museum was home to almost 20 million invaluable artefacts and is considered Latin America’s largest collection of priceless treasures, including the oldest human fossil in the Americas.
In a culture not noted for private and individual charity, the Brazil Historical Association has received more help from abroad than from local sources. The German government donated R$ 800,000 and the British Council provided R$150,000, against a total of R$157,000 from Brazilians (R$142,000 came from individuals and just R$ 15,000 came from organizations).
Kellner estimates rebuilding the museum will cost R$400 million.
“Brazil alone does not have the funds to reconstruct the Historical Museum. We had material from Egypt and Italy which was destroyed. We need help from other nations to enrich our collection.”
The museum director believes that Brazilians are not donating because they fear their donations might be diverted.