Items that survived devastating Brazil museum blaze recovered

The museum was gutted by fire in September, which destroying the vast majority of its 20 million piece collection.

More than 1,500 items have been recovered from the debris [Leo Correa/AP Photo]

Researchers from Brazil‘s National Museum said on Monday that they had recovered more than 1,500 pieces from the debris of the building following a massive fire.

The September 2 blaze, which gutted one of the world’s oldest museums, destroyed much of the 20-million-piece collection, and recovering objects from the ashes has been a slow process.

“The work must be done very carefully and patiently,” said Alexander Kellner, director of the museum.

The items recovered so far include indigenous arrowheads from Brazil, a Peruvian vase and a pre-Colombian funeral urn

In October, researchers recovered skull fragments and a part of the femur belonging to “Luzia”, the name scientists gave to a woman who lived 11,500 years ago. The fossils are among the oldest ever found in the Americas.


The update on recovery efforts on Monday was accompanied by details of a $205,385 donation from the German government for conservation equipment.

Klaus Zillikens, the German consul general to the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro, said his government was committed to the rehabilitation of the museum.

“For us, watching over our culture is both a political and societal duty, and in such, immediately after the fire we looked into helping the museum with the restoration,” he said at a press conference to announce the partnership.

Zillikens said the donation was the first part of a potential $1.3m made available for the restoration, depending on need.


Authorities have yet to say how the blaze started, but for many Brazilians, the fire became a symbol of endemic negligence and underfunding by successive governments.

Museum officials have said that the 200-year-old building was lacking many necessary security features, including a sprinkler system, and that the fire safety risks were well known.

The disaster prompted an outpouring of international support, including a visit by a group of UNESCO specialists in recovery and reconstruction. 

The cause of the devastating fire is still unknown [File: Ricardo Moraes/Reuters]
The cause of the devastating fire is still unknown [File: Ricardo Moraes/Reuters]
Source: News Agencies