The National Museum, in Rio de Janeiro, used to keep a natural and cultural treasure with over 20 million cataloged items, the largest in Latin America and one of the largest in the world. Based in Palácio de São Cristóvão (Palace of Saint Christopher), which served as residence to the Brazilian royal and imperial family, was destroyed by a fire of huge proportion on September 2, 2018. The fire consumed 90% of natural paleontology and Egyptian archeology, as well as classic and indigenous pieces, in addition to various objects from the collection.
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Although lost items cannot be rescued or restituted, a Google Arts & Culture project wants to keep the National Museum active, even if only virtually.
Google has been working on the digitalization of the museum collection and the building itself since 2016, with resources such as high-resolution photographs, photogrammetry and 3D laser-scanning, aiming to provide virtual and augmented reality experiences. Today, the work allows the digital reconstitution of the space and the collection, as well as a virtual tour through images showing how the institution used to be until that ominous September 2.
Virtual National Museum
Google’s Arts & Culture project, which developed an online platform designed to show, digitally, the collections of the Brazilian museum, is already online. The website highlights the historical data and the set of works and artifacts preserved and visited by scientists, researchers, students and the general public.
“It’s worth noting that The National Museum, in spite of losing a significant part of its collection, has never lost its capacity of yielding knowledge,” says Alexander Kellner, director of The National Museum, in the introducing text preceding the virtual tour, guided by the institution exhibits.
Besides visiting rooms guided by audio description and historical narratives that provide details on objects, visitors may also browse halls, guided by their eyes, and search for a realistic panorama of the facilities.
The platform also shows the collection highlights showing a detailed digitalization of these objects, besides photographs that map out the exact place they occupied before the fire. You can visit Luzia, the oldest skeleton of the Americas, Bendegó meteorite, a tyrannosaurus, a marajoara vase, the goddess Venus from the original Greek royal collection, and Sha-amun-en-su’s sarcophagus, among others.
Are you curious?
Visit https://artsandculture.google.com/project/museu-nacional-brasil and find out the historical and archeological beauties of the National Museum right now!
Content published in March 15, 2019