Fire at Brazil’s National Museum Destroys Millions of Science Collections

A massive fire at Brazil’s National Museum in Rio de Janeiro has resulted in the loss of about 20 million artefacts, including science and natural history collections.  Details of the extent of the damage are still emerging, but a large insect collection of nearly 5 million specimens has reportedly been lost.  The herbarium, which houses about 650,000 plant specimens, had moved to a separate building in 2007 and was spared from the fire.


The Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ) managed the museum with financial support from the federal government.  Science reported that the scientific community in Brazil blames “chronic underfunding” for the disaster. A recent Viewpoint article in BioScience, discussed the growing pressures on global biodiversity research as a result of science budget cuts in Brazil.

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