The National Museum lives – 07/04/2021 – Opinion

We were surprised by a report from sheet (“Government wants to transform the National Museum into an Imperial Palace and leave the collection out”; 3/27) revealing “meetings” to discuss the future of the São Cristóvão Palace, which has been the headquarters of the National Museum of UFRJ for almost 130 years.

According to the report, monarchist strongholds in different government bodies, particularly at the Iphan (National Historical and Artistic Heritage Institute), want to alienate the UFRJ palace, seeking to mischaracterize the monument’s scientific and cultural vocation to serve as a veneration tourist center. to the imperial family.

The whole procedure reported in the text is of a kind, not only because of the discussion itself, which is somewhat anachronistic, but because it is being fought with the exclusion of UFRJ and the National Museum. It is important to emphasize that our attitude has always been one of total transparency. Recently there were separate meetings with the Ministry of Education and with the presidency of Iphan (Brasília), where the evolution of the project was presented, with explicit support from those present, which increases the strangeness of the involvement of these institutions in the context of the report.

The National Museum was founded in 1818 by D. João 6º, whose royal decree made its purpose very clear in the first words: “Wanting to spread the knowledge and studies of the natural sciences of Brazil …”. The emperors and empresses who followed were great supporters of science, cultivating a private museum of natural history and anthropology in the São Cristóvão palace. D. Pedro 2º gathered in his “Museum of the Emperor” collections of plants and minerals inherited by Empress Leopoldina, archaeological collections, such as pieces of Herculaneum and Pompeii made under the auspices of Empress Teresa Cristina, the Egyptian mummy Sha-Amun-Em-Su , among other items.

After the Proclamation of the Republic, the palace served as the site of the first Republican Constituent Assembly, and, in 1892, it received the museum, due to the institutional interest in the “Museum of the Emperor”. The proposal was to maintain and expand the space of sciences that existed there. In 1946, it was incorporated into UFRJ, which provided a new development, resulting in an increase in audience to 350 thousand visitors per year, when the Brazilian population was one third of the current one.

However, the continued financial strangulation for decades has resulted in the country’s greatest scientific and cultural tragedy. Ironically, just in the year that the National Museum completed its bicentennial and had obtained confirmation of an R $ 21.3 million allocation from the BNDES for several improvements, including security.

September 2, 2018 will be forever remembered. In the face of worldwide commotion, a few days after the fire, a Unesco commission arrived in Brazil to help. Germany immediately granted a financial contribution for the rescue of the pieces under the rubble. Concrete help also came from institutions in the United Kingdom, USA, Portugal and France. Not to mention letters of support from museums around the world.

Within the scope of the Museu Nacional Vive project, which houses institutional reconstruction initiatives, we have to highlight the fundamental help of MEC, Unesco, federal deputies of Rio de Janeiro, Alerj, SPU-RJ, Instituto Cultural Vale, Bradesco and BNDES, which keep firm in the project. Other partnerships are on the way.

It is clear that the palace is inseparable from the National Museum / UFRJ and is part of the affective memory of the Brazilian people as a museum of natural history. Thus, we hope to be able to count on Iphan again, who until the middle of last year was an important partner of the museum, acting quickly, without the veil of ideologies or attempts of obstruction. The same goes for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which in 2018 endeavored to assist in actions with other countries.

Finally, it should be noted that the reconstruction project is a winner and will result in a prominent space that is not limited to tourism alone. It is an opportunity we have to have a museum of natural history and anthropology that is innovative, sustainable and accessible, that promotes the valorization of scientific and cultural heritage and that, through the eyes of science, invites reflection on the world around us, at the same time. in which it leads us to dream …

All of this without losing its important historical aspect, which is so dear to us and which will be valued in the new exhibitions of the institution. The National Museum lives!


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