By Richard Mann
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Nine months after the fire that destroyed the National Museum in Rio de Janeiro, the Italian Ministry of Culture has announced the shipment of some 2,000 works of art to the institution’s collection.
Marble statues and fresco paintings over 2,000 years old are among the pieces that may come to Rio in early 2020. The Italian government intends to loan the artworks for up to 20 years, and will exhibit these cultural treasures in its consulate until the museum’s reconstruction is completed.
The collaboration between the two countries aims to restore an important part of the museum’s collection: a series that came from Italy with Teresa Cristina, wife of Brazilian Emperor Dom Pedro II, who lived in the museum (then a palace) for 46 years and brought hundreds of pieces found at the archaeological site of Herculano in southern Italy.
At one point, this collection numbered 700 pieces, including objects that survived the eruption of the Vesuvius volcano but disappeared in the fire at the National Museum.
The directors of the Naples Museum and the Herculano Archaeological Park visited the National Museum. The Naples Museum director explained that the archaeological findings of the Italian cities of Pompeii and Herculano are world heritage assets that should re-establish the link with Brazil.
Lucia Borgonzoni, Italy’s vice minister of culture, said that the goal of this cooperation is to strengthen cultural ties with Brazil and that Italian experts will contribute to the restoration of the pieces in Teresa Cristina’s collection that were salvaged from the museum’s rubble.
Elizabetta Canna, one of the world’s leading restoration specialists, saw the pieces and assessed that restoration, despite requiring great care, is achievable.