The Brazilian National Committee of the International Council of Museums (ICOM Brasil) wishes to thank you for all your solidarity manifestations regarding the devastating fire that has destroyed the Museu Nacional in Rio de Janeiro. The various messages from the international ICOM community have been an invaluable support not only to the workers of the Museu Nacional, but also to the wider museum community in Brasil. It has been comforting to be part of such a strong group of professionals all around the world.
Many of you have mentioned different generous offers to share your knowledge in disaster management, and to deal with the process of rebuilding the museum and the recovery the museum’s invaluable collection. Because of the extent of damage, the first weeks were highly turbulent and we need to wait until the full extent of the situation has been assessed and the establishment of the local governance.
During this first month, the Brazilian Government requested UNESCO to send a mission to make an initial evaluation and the first draft of an emergency plan. In addition, the Ministry of Education proposed a Working Group with members of the National Museum, the Ministry of Culture, IBRAM (Brazilian Institute of Museums), IPHAN (National Heritage Institute), UNESCO and ICOM Brasil.
ICOM Brasil was also in close contact with the ICOM President, Ms. Suay Aksoy, and the General Director, Mr. Peter Keller, and we would like to thank their enormous support monitoring the situation, establishing contact with the Brazilian Government and articulating the National and International Committees. The Deputy Director of Museu Nacional, Ms. Cristiana Serejo, participated at the CIDOC 2018 Conference in Crete, when the ICOM-CIDOC response to the situation was discussed. Besides that, this week the Conference of Brazilian University Museums will take place with the participation of members of UMAC and ICTOP, debating the Museu Nacional’s challenges as a university museum and the urgent needs of increasing the security and safety measures in museums in Brasil and abroad. In addition, in November, Mr. Keller will come to the Conference organized by ICOM Paraguay, CECA, ICOFOM-LAM and UMAC in Hernandarias, Paraguay and then come to a working agenda in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.
Let us take the opportunity to thank again each one of you for your solidarity and support. As soon as we have an official statement and a precise schedule for the coming months, it will be possible to understand how to address the many invaluable contributions you have offered. Please be sure that every word received from the National and International Committees will be shared with the Working Group and the authorities.
We wish to reaffirm our avowed faith in the resilience, the courage and the creativity of the museum staff and museum community in Brasil, and we retain the undiminished hope that the Museu Nacional will recover from the sorrowful event and emerge even stronger. We do envision that once the planning stage is over, we will be able to discuss with the participation of the entire ICOM community the future of the Museu Nacional.
On behalf of the National Committee ICOM Brasil,
Renata Vieira da Motta
Chair, ICOM Brasil