On Sunday, September 2, Brazil's National Museum, the largest and most important collection of scientific and historical artifacts in Latin America, burned to the ground.


The museum was founded over two centuries ago and housed around 20 million irreplaceable artifacts.


The tragedy seems almost akin to the burning of the library at Alexandria.

The museum was in dire need of maintenance, but many believe there wasn't any money due to Brazillian President Michel Temer, who "has presided over cuts to science and education as part of a wider austerity drive."

Many place the blame for this tragedy squarely at the feet of the Brazilian government.



Luiz Duarte, a vice-director of the museum, commented to TV Globo:

For many years we fought with different governments to get adequate resources to preserve what is now completely destroyed. My feeling is of total dismay and immense anger.

Though firefighters tried to stop the blaze, they were fighting an uphill battle, once again, due to government negligence:

The two nearest hydrants had no supplies.This is an old building with a lot of flammable material, lots of wood and the documents and the archive itself.

In an especially ironic twist, Duarte also commented that the museum had just recently closed a deal with the government's development bank, BNDES, for additional funds that would have included a budget for fire safety measures.

Many Brazilians see the museum's destruction as a metaphor for the country's current hardships:

...the museum containing their most precious artefacts [sic] has burned down seemingly because there was no money for maintenance of hydrants, yet the city had recently managed to find a huge budget to build a brand new museum of tomorrow.

Bernard Mello Franco, one of Brazil's best-known columnists, wrote on O Globo:

The tragedy this Sunday is a sort of national suicide. A crime against our past and future generations.

H/T - Twitter, The Guardian

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