By Nelson Belen, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – According to officials leading the recovery and reconstruction of the National Museum of Brazil, which was destroyed in a massive fire on September 2nd, the 200-year-old structure is now facing the threat of an entirely different element: rain.
“We’re pretty worried about the rain,” exclaimed archaeologist Cláudia Carvalho to reporters on Wednesday (November 7th). “There was rain and heat soon after, which is not good at all. Rain is always a complication because it ends up exposing the material to excessive moisture.”
Carvalho, who was at one time the director of the museum, is leading the team of archaeologists, researchers, and students who are frantically trying to salvage any of the museum’s vast collection of more than twenty million rare and historical objects that may have survived the blaze.
But, according to Carvalho, as rescue efforts continue, the moist conditions are threatening to inflict further damage to many of those surviving pieces.
“Humidity favors the appearance of fungi. Some meteorites, for example, can be damaged by increased humidity,” she explained. “There is a serious risk to any pieces composed of iron or other metals. They will suffer most from rain and dampness.”
“Unfortunately,” Carvalho added, “we are having a rainier spring this year than in the past. And this in fact complicates much more our rescue work.”
Last month, museum director, Alexander Kellner, revealed that the museum might be able to reopen in three years. But, he cautioned that his estimate was conditioned on the receipt of approximately R$100 million to R$300 million from the federal government to pay for reconstruction.
According to Kellner, so far, the museum has received R$9 million in federal funds.
“If we can get this funding, I believe that in three years we will have something nice,” expressed Kellner.
“But, we need speed in this process. Every day that passes is detrimental to the collection that remains under the rubble. Every falling raindrop brings more injury.”