National Museum of Brazil Brazil, Rio de Janeiro

National Museum of Brazil

The National Museum is the oldest scientific institution of Brazil and one of the largest museums of natural history and anthropology in the Americas. The museum is located inside the Quinta da Boa Vista park, in the city of Rio de Janeiro, and is installed in the Paço de São Cristóvão ("Saint Christopher's palace"). The palace served as residence for the Portuguese Royal Family between 1808 and 1821, housed the Brazilian Imperial Family between 1822 and 1889, and also hosted the Republican Constituent Assembly from 1889 to 1891, before being assigned to the use of the museum in 1892. The building is listed as Brazilian National Heritage since 1938.

Founded by king John VI of Portugal on June 6, 1818, under the name of "Royal Museum", the institution was initially housed at the Campo de Santana park, where it exhibited the collections incorporated from the former House of Natural History, popularly known as Casa dos Pássaros ("house of the birds"), created in 1784 by the Vice-King of Brazil Luís de Vasconcelos e Sousa, as well as collections of mineralogy and zoology. The museum foundation was intended to address the interests of promoting the socioeconomic development of the country by the diffusion of education, culture, and science. Still in the 19th century, the institution was already established as the most important South American museum in its typologies. It was incorporated to the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro in 1946.

The National Museum holds a vast collection with more than 20 million objects, encompassing some of the most important material records regarding natural science and anthropology in Brazil, as well a large number of itens originated from distinct regions of the planet and produced by several cultures and ancient civilizations. Formed along more than two centuries through expeditions, excavations, acquisitions, donations and exchanges, the collection is subdivided into seven main nucleus: geology, paleontology, botany, zoology, biological anthropology, archaeology, and ethnology. The collection is the principal basis for the research conducted by the academic departments of the museum — which are responsible for carrying out activities in all the regions of the Brazilian territory and several places of the world, including the Antarctic continent. The museum also has one of the largest scientific libraries of Brazil, with over 470,000 volumes and 2,400 rare works.

In the area of education, the museum offers specializations, extension and post-graduation courses in several fields of the knowledge, in addition to hosting temporary and permanent exhibitions and educational activities open to the general public. The museum manages the Horto Botânico (Botanical Garden), adjacent to the Paço de São Cristóvão, as well as an advanced campus in the city of Santa Teresa, in Espírito Santo — the Santa Lúcia Biological Station, jointly managed with the Museum of Biology Prof. Mello Leitão. A third site, located in the city of Saquarema, is used as a support and logistics center for field activities. Finally, the museum is also dedicated to editorial production, outstanding in that field the Archivos do Museu Nacional, the oldest scientific journal of Brazil, continuously published since 1876.

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