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Sheikha Mayassa expresses concern over the tragedy of Brazil's National Museum

Sheikha Mayassa expresses concern over the tragedy of Brazil's National Museum

By Mariam M.

The tragic burning of Brazil’s Museu Nacional or National Museum in Rio de Janeiro made headlines earlier this week as millions of precious, irreplaceable artifacts went up in flames overnight.

HE Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad Al Thani, Chairperson of Qatar Museums expressed her concern about the galling incident on her official Twitter account.

“A sad day for the museum community around the world. #Qatar and #Brazil shared an exciting year of culture in 2014, connecting between our cultures. Hoping the artifacts can be recovered,” she tweeted. 

In 2014 Qatar ran a cultural exchange programme with Brazil. 

The Museu Nacional, which was founded in 1818, is the country’s oldest scientific institution, and contained precious pieces like the 11,500-year-old skull of Luzia, the oldest human remains found in the Americas.

Thanks to Brazil's 19th-century Portuguese emperors, Rio’s Museu Nacional also housed South America's oldest collection of Egyptian artifacts and mummies.

The museum contained prized dinosaur remains, and documents and indigenous artifacts relating to languages that are not even spoken any longer, and have no other solid record.

It has been theorised that some of the metal cabinets containing priceless fossils may have withstood the blaze, but that remains to be seen.

Brazilian president Michael Temer called the museum’s loss “incalculable to Brazil” and “a sad day for all Brazilians” in an official tweet.

The Brazilian government has faced increasing complaints that the fire could have been prevented.

The Museu Nacional has not received its full annual budget of $128,000 since 2014—indeed, it received only around 10 percent of that this year. In 2015, the museum’s doors were closed as they were unable to afford paying the cleaning and security staff.

The deterioration of the museum is almost as great a tragedy as its going up in flames, and it can only be hoped that the loss to Brazil and the world will serve as a wake up call rather than just another nail in the coffin of history.

 

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Image credits:
Cover image - Reuters; inline image 1 - rio.com, 2 - AFP/Getty Images.

 

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