By Nelson Belen, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – On Sunday, September 16th, two weeks after a massive fire engulfed Brazil’s National Museum, staff from the institution treated the public at Quinta da Boa Vista park to a small exhibition displaying some items from the museum’s partially destroyed 200-year-old structure collection.
Set up in tents in front of the museum, the outdoor exhibition included animals, bones, rock samples, and insects.
“Our goal is to be here every Sunday and maintain this relationship with the population and the public that goes to Quinta da Boa Vista,” said museum worker, Andrea Costa.
Also on hand on Sunday was National Museum director Alexander Kellner. “The National Museum is alive and, with the circumstances we are living in, we are adapting to show the population what we are doing and bring the population to the institution at this difficult time,” he exclaimed.
Kellner added that the museum will soon be opening up a permanent kiosk in front of the building that will update the public on its reconstruction.
As for the effort to salvage some of the museum’s collection of twenty million items that are still missing within the burned down building, Kellner said that much of the work is on hold pending completion of ongoing structural stabilization.
“There are still some collections inside that we do not know what their condition is,” explained Kellner. “But I have high hopes [of finding items not affected by the fire].”
On the night of the September 2nd fire, Kellner was part of a group of museum staff who heroically charged into the blazing inferno to try to save some of the museum’s irreplaceable pieces.
The official cause of the fire remains a mystery but recent investigative reports have revealed that the building had numerous hazardous maintenance issues such as exposed wiring, and also lacked fire doors and a sprinkler system.
Officials from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ), which runs the museum, have placed the blame for the fire firmly at the feet of the Brazil government and its years of underfunding the institution.