Sep 3, 2018

Go deeper: The artifacts destroyed by Brazil's museum fire

Photo: Fabio Teixeira/picture alliance via Getty Images

One of the most-esteemed museums in Latin America — Brazil's Museu Nacional, which was founded in 1818 and had around 20 million artifacts — went up in flames Sunday evening, destroying many of the nation's most prized cultural and historical artifacts.

Why it matters: Most of the museum's prized collection is assumed to be lost. "Very little will be left," preservation director Joao Carlos Nara told Agencia Brasil, per CNN. The collection included one of the Americas' oldest human fossils — the skull and bones of a 25-year-old "Luzia" who died around 11,500 years ago, according to National Geographic.

  • It also held the largest meteorite ever found in Brazil, bones of Brazilian dinosaurs as well as Latin America's oldest collection of ancient Egyptian mummies and artifacts.
  • The museum housed one of the best collections of indigenous literature, Guardian journalist Jonathan Watts wrote on Twitter. Urutau Guajajara, a leader and researcher of indigenous right, told Watts, “This is the greatest loss of indigenous writing in Latin America... Our memory has been erased."
  • There were also pre-Colombian, Incan treasures, according to the museum's website, and extensive collections of ancient Greek and Roman artifacts.
  • Some items were brought to Brazil by the country's founder and first ruler Dom Pedro I, according to the Guardian.
  • The building itself was once a royal palace.

What has survived: Fish and reptile specimens, herbarium and library which were in a different building, according to NatGeo, as well as part of the mollusk specimen collection, according to a biologist at Brazil's Federal University of Rio Grande on Twitter.

  • The museum's vice director blamed the fire on lack of funding from the federal government, per Reuters. The lack of funding may have resulted in inadequate fire warning systems.
  • "We never got anything from the federal government... We recently finalized an agreement with BNDES [a state-run development bank] for a massive investment, so that we could finally restore the palace and, ironically, we had planned on a new fire prevention system," he said.
  • The initial cause of the fire is still unknown.
There will be absolutely nothing left of the National Museum. The country's 200-year history has been burned.
— Luiz Fernando Dias Duarte

The president of Brazil, Michel Temer, tweeted, “Two hundred years of work research and knowledge were lost... it's a sad day for all Brazilians.”

Go deeper

Blue Cross Blue Shield insurers sue CVS, alleging drug pricing fraud

Photo: John Lamparski/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Six Blue Cross Blue Shield insurers have sued CVS Health, alleging the pharmacy chain overcharged them based on "artificially inflated prices" for generic drugs and concealed the true cash prices of those drugs.

The big picture: CVS has faced legal scrutiny over its cash discount programs since 2015, and this lawsuit adds big names to a mounting problem.

World coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Axios Visuals

New Zealand has only eight active novel coronavirus cases and no COVID-19 patients in hospital after another day of zero new infections. However, the death toll rose to 22.

Zoom in: A top health official told a briefing a 96-year-old woman "was regarded to having recovered from COVID-19 at the time of her death, and COVID-19 is not recorded as the primary cause of her death on her death certificate." But it was decided to include her in the overall tally of deaths related to the virus.

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 10 p.m. ET: 5,690,951 — Total deaths: 355,575 — Total recoveries — 2,350,071Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 10 p.m. ET: 1,699,073 — Total deaths: 100,396 — Total recoveries: 391,508 — Total tested: 15,192,481Map.
  3. Public health: CDC issues guidelines for reopening officesFauci says data is "really quite evident" against hydroxychloroquine.
  4. States: California hospitals strained by patients in MexicoTexas Supreme Court blocks mail-in expansion to state voters.
  5. Business: MGM plans to reopen major Las Vegas resorts in June — African American business owners have seen less relief from PPP, Goldman Sachs says.
  6. Tech: AI will help in the pandemic — but it might not be in time for this one.
  7. World: EU proposes a massive pandemic rescue package.
  8. 1 🎶 thing: Local music venues get rocked by coronavirus.
  9. 🎧 Podcast: Trump vs. Twitter ... vs. Trump.
  10. What should I do? When you can be around others after contracting the coronavirus — Traveling, asthma, dishes, disinfectants and being contagiousMasks, lending books and self-isolatingExercise, laundry, what counts as soap — Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingHow to minimize your risk.
  11. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it, the right mask to wear.

Subscribe to Mike Allen's Axios AM to follow our coronavirus coverage each morning from your inbox.

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy