What Have We Learnt from the Brazil National Museum Fire?

Brazil National Museum Fire
Smiling Forver by BBuzzArt artist Hoomman
What is the Truth Behind the Brazil National Museum Fire?

You don’t know what you have until it’s gone. All art lovers are experiencing the pain of losing the relics in the Brazil National Museum fire last Sunday. Everyone is asking what was lost, but nobody askes why.

According to an anthropology student who studied at the museum, this fire was caused due to several years of neglect from the federal government. The anthropology department went through a huge amount of unreasonable budget cuts during the past two years. 

In a radio interview, founder of The Brazilian Report Gustavo Ribeiro said that although the fire cause is still in investigaion, the reason is associated with the problems with how to deal with the possible fire in the museum.

The fire detectors were not working, the museum has no budget to have firefighters in place, fire hindrance around the museum is not working so that’s why the fire department once they got there by 7:30pm on Sunday, it took them over 6 hours to control the fire and that’s also because there was a lack of water to control the flames.

This is the third museum fire in Brazil since 2013. And in all 3 cases, similaries such as exposed wires, problems with fleaks, basic maintenance problems are observed.

If Museums Cannot Save Art, Then What Should We Do?

Art lovers over the world has voluntarily formed groups over social platforms to build archives for the forever-lost museum. They collect documents, pictures, or any possible information to re-build the museum online. This digital version of museum will require labour and resources beyond imagination. And we all know this tragedy could have been avoid with better cultural preservation.

If museums are no longer the best place to store and preserve art, could online platforms take their chances and serve as the alternatives?

When Was the Last Time You Visited a Museum?

When we dig into the fire cause, blames are put on the government, on the museum’s curators that they do not try their best to attract audience. Responsibilities from the government and the institution are undoubted. However, if we are being honest, do we still go to museums?

Because all of these museums don’t have the funds to properly operate. They cannot invest in modernization, in digitalizing their archives in providing a more digital experience for younger attendance so that makes attendance drops which leads a lot of administration to say ‘well, nobody is going to those museums so why should we invest them?’

At this digital age, technology has for sure brought a lot of excitements to the art scene. (See also Digital Art is Spreading Over the Scene) But where was our patience lost? Why don’t we like to spend time to appreciate art in silence anymore?

This fire is a warning. Hope that not only the federal government, all of us has learnt the lesson and sieze it before it is gone.


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