The Museum of Natural History in Belo Horizonte was damaged. This is the second museum fire in the country in the past two years: in September 2018, the National Museum of Brazil died in a fire. The repetition of the tragedy has actualized the calls of scientists for reforms.
The Natural Science Museum in Belo Horizonte houses 260,000 exhibits, ranging from fossils to folk art. As of the end of July, authorities are still assessing the extent of the damage (the museum was on fire in mid-June). It is only known that the fire spread to at least five rooms with funds. Soot and smoke entered the rooms where the archaeological sites were located. A room with indigenous artifacts and biological samples was partially damaged. Two rooms with human remains, skeletons, and stuffed animals, ancient plants, insects, mollusks are almost completely destroyed.
The news of the fire triggered alarm among Brazilians. They had reminded that the country’s museums lack the resources to store and protect their collections.
Archaeologist André Pris said that at first the artifacts he found, died in the fire of 2018, and now the results of his work were destroyed in another museum. Now scientists of the university museum are sifting through the ashes of the conflagration, hoping to find at least the remains of the archaeological finds stored there. And employees of the Brazilian National Museum, which burned down in 2018, advise them on the restoration of those items that can still be saved.
As shown by the investigation of the recent misfortune, the electrical wiring at the Belo Horizonte Museum was redone in 2013. Around the same time, an independent panel of experts discovered that a fire safety audit report, fire safety protocols, and panic protection was missing at the museum. And the 2015 report indicated that the museum did not have a plan for protecting the collection in case of fire and that it had not been inspected by the fire department.