London’s Natural History Museum supports fire-hit Museu Nacional

Blaze devastated Rio De Janeiro museum in September last year
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Simon Stephens
London’s Natural History Museum (NHM) has signed an agreement to support the Museu Nacional, which was devasted by fire a year ago.

The Rio de Janeiro venue, which lost more than 20 million items in the blaze, is rebuilding itself and caring for salvaged specimens and artefacts.
The museums have signed a five-year memorandum of understanding as part of a wider international effort to support Brazil’s national museum.

A group of senior NHM representatives, including director Michael Dixon, are visiting Rio de Janeiro to deliver a series of workshops on collections management and the digitisation of specimens. This follows a visit by representatives of the Museu Nacional to NHM earlier this year when they discussed a partnership opportunities.

“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,” said Dixon.
“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.”

Alexander Kellner, the director of Museu Nacional, said: “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.”

Following last year’s fire, the British Embassy in Brazil supported the rescue activities of Museu Nacional and the British Council worked with the museum to contact partner organisations in the UK to provide support for the museum as it started the process of reconstruction.
The British Council also provided a grant of £35,000 for a programme of activities with UK institutions in areas such as digitising the museum’s remaining collection and developing links between academics and researchers. The British Council has provided a further £20,000 to support the memorandum of understanding between the NHM and the Museu Nacional.

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