I read in a newspaper the other day about the work to recreate various Amazonian artefacts for Brazil’s National Museum following the devastating fire last September.
The museum housed – amongst 20 million other items – one of the largest anthropological collections in the world accumulated over the last two hundred years. In the 2018 fire over 90% of the items in the museum were destroyed. Museum staff and firefighters managed to save whatever they could as the fire took hold, but nevertheless the entire collection of indigenous artefacts, some pre-dating Columbus (!), has been lost.
In the mid 19th century a naturalist named Richard Spruce spent many years exploring and making notes in the Amazon rainforest. As well as his detailed manuscripts and drawings, he brought back over 300 items such as brushes and cassava graters, rattles and headdresses. These he sold to the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew and they have remained in the archives ever since.
Following the fire, researchers from the University of London have been working together with community leaders and researchers from the Amazon to help indigenous peoples recreate artefacts based on Spruce’s notes and finds. These new artefacts will be given to the National Museum in 2020 to help raise the profile of Brazil’s indigenous population as well as to re-stock the new museum.
Maintaining a secure archive and having objects on display is always a juggling act. Our hardened aircraft shelters in Oxfordshire make perfect storage facilities as they are bomb-, flood- and fireproof and damp and pest free. We work alongside the National Conservation Service to ensure that the toughest of storage requirements are met, 24 hours a day.
In Restore’s high security heritage storage facility it’s easy to store large items alongside smaller ones, and our barcoding makes it simple to keep track of artefacts when moving them in and out of display or out on loan to other museums or galleries, both national and international.
If you’d like to find out more about our heritage storage, or have a tour of the ex-Cold War base, give Michael Watts, Restore’s heritage specialist, a call on 03300 377 697.
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