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Thread: Global Tragedy -The National Museum of Brazil burns.

  1. #1
    Member
    Registered: May 2004
    Location: Canuckistan GWN

    Global Tragedy -The National Museum of Brazil burns.

    What a terrible loss for all of humanity. The National Museum of Brazil burns entirely. The whole building was gutted.

    Twenty-two million artifacts, including the finest pterosaur collection in the world. Countless fossils and biological collections. Countless historical artifacts and archives.

    Government neglect is considered mostly to blame.

    One thing this tells me is that our existing collections need to be digitalised and those virtual collections duplicated and dispersed to prevent further loss. While this is no replacement for the irreplaceable, at least some record of our past can be preserved.

    So very sad.

  2. #2
    Member
    Registered: Aug 2009
    Location: Lady Valerius' bedchambers
    Heartbreaking

    It was a gorgeous, classical building too. I know it's the least concern in this case, but it pains me to think that if they rebuild it, they likely won't replicate the original structure, but replace it with some cheap, modernist glass monstrosity

    Quote Originally Posted by Nicker View Post
    One thing this tells me is that our existing collections need to be digitalised
    There's been a heavy manuscript digitalization drive in the last 10 years or so; I don't know about this museum specifically, but countless rare manuscripts from all over the world now online

  3. #3
    Member
    Registered: May 2004
    Location: Canuckistan GWN
    I believe there is an ongoing effort to scan ancient ruins and other heritage structures, at least to preserve some information about them.

    This is just one example.

    This also needs to be done with artifacts. If we survive our collective infancy we may have a few virtual mementos left.

  4. #4
    Member
    Registered: Jun 2010
    Location: A Former Forest
    I saw this fire on a very short clip on the news this morning (Sept 4th). It is a terrible loss. I was disappointed it did not get more press, but not surprised. A significant destruction of history, Sad

  5. #5
    Member
    Registered: Sep 2000
    These pictures are absolutely awful.

    Quote Originally Posted by Azaran View Post
    There's been a heavy manuscript digitalization drive in the last 10 years or so; I don't know about this museum specifically, but countless rare manuscripts from all over the world now online
    I work with manuscripts from time to time, digitalization is a great thing. Nothing like using the original if you need to know certain things about it, but there are also major advantages to digital copies, e.g. the ability to zoom in to decipher difficult handwriting or compare two folios side by side. Plus you can sometimes get archives and libraries to send you digital copies if they're not already online, rather than having to travel to the site (though that's fun sometimes as well).

    I have a few pals in computer science departments who also work with museums, it seems like 3D technology and virtual reality might come to play a big role in conservation and cultural heritage in the next decade or so. Not that helps these poor people in Rio

  6. #6
    Member
    Registered: Feb 2002
    Location: In the flesh.
    I heard some of their collection was on loan so there is at least some saved. Makes one wonder if perhaps collections should be housed in groups of buildings rather than all the eggs in one basket.

  7. #7
    Member
    Registered: Apr 2003
    Location: The Land of Make Believe
    Important museum collections should probably not be housed in third world countries in the first instance. See also: Syria, Iraq, Egypt.

  8. #8
    Still Subjective
    Registered: Dec 1999
    Location: Idiocy will never die
    That's a bit harsh.

    What else can't they have in your opinion?

  9. #9
    Member
    Registered: May 2004
    Location: Canuckistan GWN
    Maybe some arrangement a little less colonial in appearance might be good.

    Firstly, critical collections should be dispersed within their countries. Second, have an international cooperative of museums prepared to evacuate and house collections at risk during natural or political disasters or from sites identified as insecure for any reason.

  10. #10
    Member
    Registered: Dec 2011
    Location: Ferrol - Spain
    Quote Originally Posted by SubJeff View Post
    That's a bit harsh.

    What else can't they have in your opinion?
    So much sex and then not know what to do about the baby.
    https://www.worldatlas.com/articles/...the-world.html
    But not only there...

  11. #11
    Member
    Registered: Sep 2001
    Location: Qantas
    Wow, look where this thread has gone. You don't want them to be able to procreate?

    All countries should be able to own and display their own art and history.
    Brazil is not a third world country.
    A fire can happen anywhere.

    Preserving collections is important, but so is access. Spreading collections around to minimize loss in case of a disaster also makes them less valuable because fewer people are able to appreciate them and learn from them. I think it's wonderful that our Smithsonian Institution has so many collections in Washington D.C.

  12. #12
    Member
    Registered: May 2004
    Location: Canuckistan GWN
    Thanks Heywood, I was about to make an appeal to keep this thread on track.

    Any given museum only displays a fraction of it's collection to the public and the displays are often replicas anyway. For academics it's a matter of traveling to the location of the materials they need to study so I don't see that dispersal is a huge issue as far as public access is concerned. It could be done within a complex of adjacent buildings to guard against fire and flood.

    That said, the neglect of collections and their relegation to substandard buildings, is not just a problem in poorer countries.

    But it is not prejudicial to say that collections in marginalised countries are especially at risk, not just from destructive accidents but from predation. Corrupt officials selling artifacts to unscrupulous collectors is a huge problem.

    Another issue is the deliberate destruction of museums as an instrument of war and cultural vandalism, as we see with Isis. They both profit from the illegal sale of artifacts and they get to erase the cultural memories of the people they attack. When the Nazis invaded Poland in 1938, they had a dedicated machinery in place to plunder the universally valuable artifacts from art and museum collections, and to destroy the remaining treasures and buildings as a way of erasing Polish identity.

    But I guess it's a pipe dream to hope that wealthy countries might dedicate resources to preserving the museums of foreign lands when they often neglect their own.

  13. #13
    Member
    Registered: Sep 2000
    Quote Originally Posted by heywood View Post

    All countries should be able to own and display their own art and history.
    Brazil is not a third world country.
    A fire can happen anywhere.
    I agree totally. And on the third point, the Glasgow School of Art has burned down twice in very recent memory.

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