Brazil to reconstruct its fire-ravaged National Museum

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Brasilia, Sep 4 (IANS) Brazil has begun the process of rebuilding the National Museum of Rio de Janeiro after an inferno gutted its 200-year-old largest cultural and historical institution.

At least 90 per cent of 20 million artifacts that were housed there have been destroyed, Efe news reported.

Education Minister Rossieli Soares and Culture Minister Sergio Sa Leitao announced at a press conference on Monday that the reconstruction will begin with an immediate budget of around $2.4 million.

In the second phase, additional sum will be allocated for an executive reconstruction project which is yet to be defined. The project will also be supported by the Unesco.

Standing in front of the ravaged facade of the building the ministers guaranteed that steps will be taken to ensure safety in future.

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There were huge protests over the abandonment of the institution by the government. Officials also expressed fury over the lack of resources for the museum’s maintenance a fact they had been criticizing for years.

Brazilian President Michel Temer has announced that, for the third phase, he has convinced a series of public and private financial entities to contribute to a fund which would be used to acquire the new collection.

Only the zoology collection in the museum’s library, the herbarium and some other ceramic and mineral artifacts, which were housed in a different building, survived the fire.

The most important piece of the remaining collection is the Bendego meteorite – weighing over 5.6 tons – the largest meteorite ever found in Brazil.

Among the greatest losses are Luzia, a 12,000-year-old skeleton considered South America’s oldest human remains; a set of Egyptian mummies bought by the Emperor Pedro I, one of the largest collection of dinosaur fossils in Latin America and a collection of Greco-Roman art brought to Brazil by Empress Teresa Cristina.

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