The blaze which engulfed the National Museum in Rio de Janeiro on Sunday evening, destroying most of its interior, has caused an incalculable loss to science and culture for both Brazil and the rest of the world. The museum’s archive of over 2 million pieces includes some of the most important anthropological and archaeological findings in Latin America.
According to British insurance company JLT, no Brazilian museum has insurance against fire to protect permanent collections and buildings – only temporary exhibitions tend to be protected. To make matters worse, Rio’s National Museum’s smoke detectors weren’t working, nor did the institution have the funds to keep firefighters in the building.
While salvage operations are still underway, all signs point to the almost total destruction of the pieces which, on Sunday afternoon, were open to the public.