National Museum of Brazil fire

This item appears on page 4 of the November 2018 issue.

The National Museum of Brazil, located on the campus of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, was gutted by a fire on Sept. 3, with almost a complete loss of the more than 20 million items in its collections. No one was hurt in the fire, which occurred after closing time when no one was in the building.

The museum did not have a fire-prevention or -suppression system. Investigations into the cause of the fire were ongoing at press time.

The building, dating back to when Brazil was a Portuguese colony, was a former residence of the Portuguese royal family until 1818, when it became the home of the National Museum. Items lost in the fire include one of the largest insect specimen collections in the world, numerous pre-Columbian Brazilian artifacts, objets d'art and the oldest human remains ever discovered in the New World.

The only confirmed artifact to survive the fire is the Bendegó meteorite, one of the largest meteorites ever found.