More than a year behind, the National Museum plans to begin rebuilding its palace in the first half of next year. Even so, it promises to fulfill the plan and reopen some of the doors to the public in 2022, when Brazil celebrates 200 years of independence. We are a family business.
The idea was to start work on the facade and roofs of the building in Rio de Janeiro in 2019, a year after one of the most noticeable fires in the country, where the imperial family lived and the first Brazilian scientific institution worked. However, due to project delays and the new coronavirus pandemic, plans have been postponed.
“It’s no ordinary building,” said Denise Carvalho, dean of UFRJ, the federal university responsible for the museum. “The contracted company had several difficulties in keeping the project at an excellent level. Halfway through, for example, sculptures integrated into the building were found that must be taken into account,” he said at a virtual press conference this Thursday (17).
This project is now done and the reform has yet to be auctioned off, which it plans in three or four months. “The bidding is quick, but the work is still ongoing. We are working on creating the first block [que corresponde a 50% da área construída] and Jardim das Princesas will be ready in 2022. Then we can hold the bicentenary, “he said.
Among other things, there is no architectural project for the interior of the palace, which will be completed in the final phase by a company that was hired as part of an international tendering process coordinated by Unesco. The deadline for the reopening of the entire building is set for 2025 or 2026.
In the meantime, the university plans to open a new campus next year to house the academic part of the museum on the federal government-provided land near the Maracanã Stadium (North Rio). This is where the administration, the classrooms and the laboratories of the researchers who lost their jobs as a result of the tragedy remain.
“We need to restore self-esteem to the people of Rio and Brazil, and the National Museum is one of the ways to do that. It is a privilege for our country to have a monument the size of the museum,” said director Alexander Kellner, who this often repeats that the institution continues to produce knowledge even with fire.
Over the past two years, the museum has assembled a team of researchers to manually dig up the rubble and salvage the collection that went through what has been called the “three tragedies”: fire, water (from firefighters and rain) and the building’s collapse.
This work of removing and storing the parts is now virtually complete but has been delayed by the pandemic as there have been cases of Covid even within the team. We still have to invest in completing the inventory and restoring these objects, which has not yet started.
It is currently impossible to equalize the number of parts rescued because some, for example, are fragmented. At the beginning of the year, the museum estimated that more than half of the collections – in the fields of anthropology, botany, entomology (insects), geology and paleontology, invertebrates and vertebrates – had recovered relevant materials.
The facility does not yet have the funds necessary to rebuild the museum and collection. So far 65% of the total planned R $ 380 million has been raised or secured. The budget includes the works of the palace, the renovation of the central library, the construction of the new campus and all works of museography.
However, last year it received help from institutions like BNDES (which increased its transfers from R $ 22 million to R $ 50 million), Instituto Cultural Vale and Bradesco with an additional R $ 50 million each. The money also comes from the Ministry of Education, parliamentary changes by federal MPs in RJ, and donations from countries, people and companies.
Kellner appealed to Brazilians to help restore the collection through the Associação Amigos do Museu Nacional, a civil society organization that receives and manages donations from individuals or companies through the website.
In July, the federal police completed an investigation into the causes of the fire and ruled out criminal acts or omissions by the managers, as the administration had already set a budget for the renovation of the building. Forensics confirmed that the main focus of the flames was on the air conditioning in the first floor auditorium.