University Publishers Offer Aid in Brazil National Museum’s Recovery

The Association of University Presses has gathered more than 50 of its member publishers to help stock the shelves of Brazil’s National Museum, which suffered a devastating fire last fall.

It may have been one of the greatest cultural tragedies of the 21st century, but the world of associations is ready to help remedy the loss of Brazil’s National Museum in Rio de Janeiro.

This week, the Association of University Presses (AUPresses) announced that more than 50 of its member publishers would donate books to the museum, which suffered a massive fire last fall. The initiative will provide a starting point to the museum, which had around 20 million artifacts, including half a million books. According to The Guardian, as much as 90 percent of its collection was destroyed in the blaze, and the building was not insured.

The National Museum, which suffered greatly as a result of a lack of funding over many decades, has attempted to begin rebuilding, hosted a crowdfunding campaigns to help relaunch its education programs, and set up tents to display the parts of the museum that survived the fire.

“Our goal is to be here every Sunday and maintain this relationship with the population and the public,” museum worker Andrea Costa said last fall, according to Smithsonian.

While the AUPresses initiative cannot replace the cultural loss, it is helping to organize the recovery of as many books as possible. Christie Henry, the director of Princeton University Press, assisted in getting the publishers to work together.

In a news release, Federico Neiburg, an anthology professor at the Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, the facility that operates the museum, said that he has accepted thousands of books already, with at least 4,000 more on the way.

“Our expectation is to have a richer library than that we lost. We already have a new space for the library and are working on its rebuilding, in collaboration of a team of architects from our own university,” Neiburg said in the release. “We expect to reopen the library by the end of March and to have it functioning by June. And by the end of 2019 we expect to have at least the same number of volumes we had before the fire.”

AUPresses has helped in many situations like this in the past, including in supplying books to regions of the world that have faced instability, such as Iraq, Afghanistan, Eastern Europe, and Africa.

(Felipe Milanez/Wikimedia Commons)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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