January 23, 2019
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Brazil announces reconstruction plan for fire-ravaged National Museum

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Sep 3 (efe-epa).- The Government of Brazil announced Monday that it has begun the process of rebuilding the National Museum of Rio de Janeiro after Sunday's fire destroyed at least 90 percent of the 20 million artifacts that were housed in the country's largest cultural and historical institution.

The announcement was made by Education Minister Rossieli Soares and Culture Minister Sergio Sa Leitao at a press conference held in front of the museum, amid protests over the abandonment of the institution by the government. Officials also expressed fury over the lack of resources for the museum's maintenance a fact they had been criticizing for years.

Soares said that the reconstruction will begin with an immediate budget of 10 million reals (about $2.4 million) "to guarantee the physical structure and safety," of the National Museum.

This announcement came after Brazil's Civil Defense warned that the internal walls and floors of the 200-year-old building were compromised by the fire and could collapse anytime.

The minister added that, in the second phase, an additional 5 million reals will be allocated for an executive reconstruction project which is yet to be defined. This project will also be supported by the UNESCO.

The education minister said that in a third phase, he will ask the international community to help assemble a new collection for the museum.

Brazilian president Michel Temer announced that, for this third phase, he had convinced a series of public and private financial entities to contribute to a fund which would be used to acquire the new collection.

National Museum Deputy Director Cristiane Serejo affirmed that according to a preliminary assessment, the flames destroyed about 90 percent of the collection. Only the zoology collection in the museum's library, the herbarium and some other ceramic and mineral artifacts, which were housed in a different building, survived the fire.

The most important piece of the remaining collection was the Bendego meteorite - weighing over 5.6 tons - the largest meteorite ever found in Brazil.

Among the greatest losses are Luzia, a 12,000-year-old skeleton considered South America's oldest human remains; a set of Egyptian mummies bought by the Emperor Pedro I, one of the largest collection of dinosaur fossils in Latin America and a collection of Greco-Roman art brought to Brazil by Empress Teresa Cristina.

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