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Standing in Solidarity with the National Museum of Brazil


On Sunday night, a huge fire devastated the National Museum of Brazil. Founded 200 years ago, the museum is the oldest scientific institution in Brazil and one of the largest and most renowned museums in Latin America, with a collection of 20 million artifacts and specimens. It is with a deep sense of loss that we share our condolences with our colleagues in Brazil and with the Brazilian public in general. The importance of the collections lost during this tragic event is immeasurable. The National Museum housed invaluable artifacts and specimens of incalculable value to science. From artifacts of great importance to the scientific and cultural heritage of Brazil to the historical building itself, this is a great loss not only for Brazil but for world heritage. 

Events like this are a wake-up call to the importance of the natural and cultural history of the planet. Museums like ours document, protect and celebrate the natural world. Our collections are an invaluable library of moments in life on Earth. Each artifact and specimen is a crucial record that shows us how the world has become what it is today and also a key clue that guides us to how we can protect it in the future. 

Although we can not change the events of this weekend, we as natural history museums remain committed to working together to use our collections and the collective scientific power to generate and protect information that can be used by the world community. As our colleagues in Brazil look to the future, we pledge to support them in the coming weeks, months, and years.

Ellen V. Futter 
American Museum of Natural History

George Sparks 
President & CEO 
Denver Museum of Nature & Science

Richard W. Lariviere 
President & CEO 
Field Museum

Bruno David 
Museum National d’Histoire Naturelle

Johannes Vogel 
Director General 
Museum für Naturkunde

Edwin JFB van Huis 
General Director 
Naturalis Biodiversity Center

Peter C. Kjærgaard 
Natural History Museum of Denmark

Sir Michael Dixon 
Natural History Museum London

Lori Bettison-Varga 
President & Director 
Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County

Camille Pisani 
Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences

Josh Basseches 
Director & CEO 
Royal Ontario Museum

Kirk R. Johnson 
Smithsonian Director National Museum of Natural History


Founded in 1914, the Royal Ontario Museum showcases art, culture and nature from around the world and across the ages. Among the top 10 cultural institutions in North America, Canada’s largest and most comprehensive museum is home to a world-class collection of 13 million art objects and natural history specimens, featured in 40 gallery and exhibition spaces. As the country’s preeminent field research institute and an international leader in new and original findings, the ROM plays a vital role in advancing our understanding of the artistic, cultural and natural world. Combining its original heritage with the contemporary Daniel Libeskind-designed Michael Lee-Chin Crystal, the ROM serves as a national landmark, and a dynamic cultural destination in the heart of Toronto for all to enjoy.

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