Brazil’s gutted National Museum seeks funds in Europe

Aerial view of Brazil’s National Museum taken as journalists make their first visit since the building burnt down last September, in Rio de Janeiro. (AFP pic)

RIO DE JANEIRO: Brazil’s National Museum director headed to Europe on Tuesday for a two-week fundraising trip to help finance the rebuilding of the institution devastated by fire last year.

Alexander Kellner told AFP he would visit Germany and France in search of support after failing to get the much-needed aid in Brazil.

“Our objective is to show our reconstruction efforts and explain how institutions from other countries can contribute,” Kellner said before boarding a plane in Rio de Janeiro.

“This tragedy transcends our borders. It is not just Brazil which suffered. The fire affected collections from other countries.”

Beyond funds needed for the reconstruction of Latin America’s main natural history museum, the institution needs money to safeguard artefacts rescued from the ashes of the gutted building.

Kellner told reporters earlier this month that the museum required one million reais (about US$250,000) “to be able to breathe.”

After the blaze, the education ministry released the equivalent of US$2.5 million for emergency works to preserve the building’s facade. But other public funds have not yet been disbursed.

Kellner said Tuesday the museum was still waiting for a “clear signal from the (Jair) Bolsonaro government about the reconstruction of the National Museum.”

Kellner plans to meet with representatives of the German and French governments and museums, and visit the Notre Dame cathedral in Paris to “see how the reconstruction is organised and show solidarity.”

Brazil’s National Museum had received the equivalent of $280,000 in donations, Kellner told AFP previously – a fraction of the more than one billion dollars pledged for the Notre-Dame.

The total cost of restoring the National Museum will reportedly be around 100 million reais.