News & events > Brazil National Museum Fire: Museum World Expresses Solidarity and Offers Support
07 Sep 2018

Brazil National Museum Fire: Museum World Expresses Solidarity and Offers Support

  Several international organisations in the field of museums and heritage expressed their sadness and solidarity, and offered support, following the fire that ravaged the 200 year-old National Museum of Brazil in Rio de Janeiro on 2 September.


In a statement released on 3 September, the International Council of Museums (ICOM) expressed its deep sorrow, recalling that the National Museum was 'the biggest natural history museum in Latin America and Brazil's oldest museological institution'. While being relieved that the disaster had not caused any mortalities, ICOM mourned 'the loss of the museum’s invaluable collection, which included important natural history, mineralogical, paleontological, archaeological, ethnographic, and documentary collections, which hold up to 20 million items'. The organisation also reiterated its belief in the resilience and professionalism of Brazil's museum professionals and declared its commitment to mobilising resources and capacities to provide assistance.


Meanwhile, the International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property (ICCROM) published a statement expressing its solidarity and heartfelt sympathy with the Brazilian people and heritage authorities, calling the fire 'an inestimable loss to humanity, given the great significance of these collections in terms of their social, educational, historic and scientific values.' ICCROM went on to stress that 'this tragedy is not an isolated event affecting our cultural heritage', as several similar developments have affected, among others, the Maritime Museum in Jakarta, the Glasgow School of Art and the National Museum of Natural History in Delhi. In order to address this risk, ICCROM has developed a range of publications and capacity-building initiatives. The organisations warned however that 'more still needs to be done', including 'reaching out to decision makers to create a fire risk culture', and indicated its aim to continue working towards this goal.


Finally, the Director-General of UNESCO, Audrey Azoulay, expressed her solidarity to the Brazilian people following the fire that devastated the National Museum. She also made UNESCO available to Brazilian authorities to mobilise its expertise, particularly in the field of the protection and safeguarding of cultural heritage, to try to mitigate the consequences of the fire.