Past Event

Brazil in Flames | The Museu Nacional Fire and its Aftermath

November 29, 2018
8:00 PM - 10:00 PM
Columbia Faculty House - Garden Room 1 | 64 Morningside Dr, New York, NY 10027, USA

On September 2 of this year, the world watched in horror as flames engulfed the Museu Nacional (National Museum), in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, home of the most extensive anthropological, natural history, and colonial history collections in Latin America and with an international reputation for superb scholarship. The Museu was founded 200 years ago when the Portuguese royal family established Rio de Janeiro as the capital of the Portuguese crown. For all that time, the Museu was a jewel in a large public park, the beautiful Quinta da Boa Vista. Yet for many years the Museu had lacked sufficient funds to ensure its preservation. The fire that burned the Museu to the ground has touched many lives: the students and faculty whose libraries and laboratories were housed there, the international scholars who consulted its collections, visitors from the world over, and the children who looked forward to visits there with their families and their schools.

This session of the Brazil Seminar seeks to reflect on the fiery tragedy, its consequences, and perspectives for the future from the standpoint of some who had warned of its neglect, who have born witness to its demise, and who are involved in the efforts to revive the Museu. In addition to reading published accounts by Museu faculty, we will hear from the following speakers, directly from the office of Columbia University in Rio de Janeiro:

Wagner Victer, Secretary of Education of the State of Rio de Janeiro: “Preventive Engineering as a Way to Preserve Historical Heritage,”

Renata de Castro Menezes, Associate Professor of Anthropology, Museu Nacional-Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro: “Amid Ashes, Affection, and Conflicts, Museu Nacional Lives on: A Perspective from the Anthropology of Devotion and Sacred Objects,”

Rita Scheel-Ybert, Associate Professor of Archaeology, Museu Nacional- Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro: “Amid Ashes, Affection, and Conflicts, Museu Nacional Lives on: The Past and Present of Brazilian Archaeological Research,"

Irene V. Small, Assistant Professor Contemporary Art and Criticism, Princeton University: “’O Museu É o Mundo’: A Small History of Catastrophes.”