Brazil’s Museu Nacional

Museum partners with Museu Nacional on behalf of specimens and artefacts from salvaged collections

A group of senior representatives from the Natural History Museum, including leading scientists and Museum Director Sir Michael Dixon, are visiting Rio de Janeiro this week to provide specialist support and expertise to Brazil’s National Museum, which was devastated by a fire one year ago. 

A group of senior representatives from the Natural History Museum, including leading scientists and Museum Director Sir Michael Dixon, are visiting Rio de Janeiro this week to provide specialist support and expertise to Brazil’s National Museum, which was devastated by a fire one year ago.

The fire ravaged one of the world's most important anthropological and natural history collections and the Museum now has the challenge of caring for the salvaged specimens and artefacts.

Following the fire, the British Embassy in Brazil supported the rescue activities of Museu Nacional and the British Council has worked with the Museu Nacional to contact partner organisations in the United Kingdom to provide support for the museum as it started the process of reconstruction.

The British Council also provided a grant of £335,000 for a programme of activities with UK institutions in areas such as digitalisation of the remaining collection and links between academics and researchers.

On the occasion of the visit of the Museum delegation, the British Council is providing a further grant of £20,000 to support the memorandum of understanding between the two museums which will help start joint activities in priority areas for the recuperation of the museum and the building of future collaboration.

As part of the visit Natural History Museum experts will deliver a series of workshops on collections management and the digitisation of specimens. The Natural History Museum hosted a visit by representatives of Brazil’s National Museum earlier this year to discuss a partnership to help their recovery and rebuild.

This week, Sir Michael has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Brazil’s National Museum Director Professor Alexander Kellner to foster academic and cultural collaboration between the two Museums, thus UK’s and Brazil’s scientific and cultural sectors.

Sir Michael Dixon, Director of the Natural History Museum, says: 'The fire at Brazil’s National Museum was not only a tragedy for the global Museum community but for anyone who loves the natural world. We are making this declaration of support to one of our international counterparts because we understand the global necessity of these collections to further advance our scientific knowledge of the planet we live on and to help humanity make better decisions now and for the future.'

Professor Alexander Kellner, Director of Museu Nacional Brazil comments, 'We are very pleased with this initiative and are looking forward for a lasting collaboration that includes the scientific aspects and a rebuilding of our collection from original material.'

British Council Brazil Director, Martin Dowle, adds, 'I greatly welcome the commitment of the Natural History Museum to collaborate with the Museu Nacional as it starts its road to recovery following the tragic fire last September. Since the fire, the British Council has been at the forefront of galvanizing support for the Museu Nacional from UK institutions. This week we are announcing a contribution of £20,000 (approximately R$100,000) which will help kick-start academic and cultural cooperation under the five-year memorandum of understanding, and thereby strengthen co-operation between the NHM and the Museu Nacional.'

Cindy Parker, Science and Innovation Director, British Embassy Brasilia* says, 'The UK and Brazil are home to wonderful museums that collect, preserve and exhibit elements of our past, to inspire present and future generations. We shared Brazil’s pain at the terrible fire at the Museu Nacional’s last year. I am pleased that the British Embassy was able to support the Museu’s efforts to salvage parts of the collection in the aftermath of the fire. This new MOU between the UK’s Natural History Museum and Brazil’s Museu Nacional opens new opportunities for future collaboration and demonstrates the importance we attach to the UK-Brazil science partnership.'

Accompanying Director Michael Dixon will be two leading scientists from the Natural History Museum who are taking part in a week of workshops and presentations with staff from various museums across Brazil. Clare Valentine, Head of Collections (Life Sciences) will talk about her work overseeing the conservation and curation of the Natural History Museum’s Life Sciences collection and Vincent Smith, Research Leader Informatics, will discuss the process of digitalising the Natural History Museum’s 80 million specimens. Since introducing this process in 2015, 17 billion records have been downloaded from around the world for scientific use. The visit by the Natural History Museum will take place 26 to 29 August 2019.

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For further information, please contact:

Media contact of Natural History Museum: Tel: +44 (0) 20 7942 5654 Email: press@nhm.ac.uk 

Media contact of Museu Nacional: Tel: +55 (0) 11 957791648 Email: marcio.martins@trevocomunicativa.com.br

About The Natural History Museum:

The Natural History Museum exists to inspire a love of the natural world and unlock answers to the big issues facing humanity and the planet. It is a world-leading science research centre, and through its unique collection and unrivalled expertise it is tackling issues such as food security, eradicating diseases and managing resource scarcity. The Museum’s collection data is open by default and released onto the Museum’s Data Portal data.nhm.ac.uk which currently has over 4.3 million specimens on. Since 2015, 17 billion records have been downloaded, over 220,000 download events and over 290 scientific papers that the Museum knows of cite the Museum’s scientists and their papers over a range of topics from Agriculture to Human health, biodiversity and Climate change. The Natural History Museum is the most visited natural history museum in Europe and the top science attraction in the UK; we welcome around five million visitors each year and our website receives over 850,000 unique visitors a month. People come from around the world to enjoy our galleries and events and engage both in-person and online with our science and educational activities through innovative programmes and citizen science projects.

About Museu Nacional Brazil:

The National Museum, linked to the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ), is a scientific institution in Brazil and the first museum institution in the country. And by September 2018, when much of the collection of over 20 million items was lost in a major fire, the National Museum was considered one of the largest, and most important, institutions of natural history and anthropology in the Americas. Located in Quinta da Boa Vista, in the north of Rio de Janeiro, the National Museum is headquartered in the São Cristóvão Palace which, for 13 years, was the residence of the Portuguese royal family and later received the Brazilian imperial family. Until the fire, the National Museum housed a collection of pieces from five continents, in collections of anthropology, geology, paleontology, botany, zoology, biological anthropology, archeology and ethnology. The National Museum offers extension, specialization and postgraduate courses in different areas of knowledge.

About British Council:

The British Council is the UK’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities. We work with over 100 countries in the fields of arts and culture, English language, education and civil society. Last year we reached over 80 million people directly and 791 million people overall including online, broadcasts and publications. We make a positive contribution to the countries we work with – changing lives by creating opportunities, building connections and engendering trust. Founded in 1934 we are a UK charity governed by Royal Charter and a UK public body. We receive 15% core funding grant from the UK government. 

Contact

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Evenings and weekends:
+44 (0)7799 690 151
Email: press@nhm.ac.uk