20 million historical artifacts destroyed in Brazil National Museum fire

Buda Mendes/Getty

The Museu Nacional in Rio, one of the largest museums in the Americas, was engulfed by flames Sunday evening.

The conflagration began once the museum was closed and Reuters reports that the cause of the blaze is yet to be determined. As of writing, no deaths or injuries have been reported.

More than 20 million items are stored within the museum’s collection, including the fossilized remains of “Luzia”, the oldest human fossil found in Brazil. Another priceless artifact, a 5.5-ton meteorite discovered in Brazil in 1784, was also housed within the museum.

Brazilian President Michael Temer tweeted on Sunday evening that it was “a sad day for all Brazilians”.

At this stage, it’s unclear what has been lost in the fire but Marina Amaral, a Brazilian historical colorist, quoted the museum’s director on Twitter explaining that the 200-year-old historical archive was “totally destroyed” and “there is nothing left”.

Amaral also posted images and video of the blaze to Twitter late Sunday evening.

The museum was founded in 1818, by King John VI of Portugal. Throughout the 19th Century it had housed the Portuguese royal family and the Brazilian imperial family. It began use as a museum in 1892.

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