Donations for gutted Brazil museum a fraction of Notre-Dame's

Rio de Janeiro (AFP) –


As donations for the restoration of the Notre-Dame cathedral top $900,000, the director of Brazil's devastated National Museum can only hope for such deep pockets in his own country.

Nearly eight months after a faulty air conditioning system sparked a fire that gutted Latin America's main natural history museum and destroyed most of its collection, just $280,000 or so has been raised for its reconstruction.

"We are very happy for the extremely positive reaction of French society and we hope that following this example Brazilian businesses and millionaires will start to send us their donations," Alexander Kellner, director of the Rio de Janeiro-based museum, told AFP.

"It is not a question of obtaining amounts of this magnitude, but the National Museum really needs donations.

"With a million reais ($255,000) more, we can solve a lot of problems, it would help us breathe, because for now it is artificial respiration."

Friends of the National Museum Association, which is charged with collecting donations, has so far received the equivalent of $36,000 from individuals and $3,800 from companies.

Donations have been "far below our expectations," Kellner admitted, but said the lack of tax reductions for Brazilian donors might be one of the reasons.

After the September 2 fire ripped through the four-story former imperial palace, Brazil's education ministry released the equivalent of $2.5 million for emergency works to preserve the building's facade. But other public funds have not yet been disbursed.

The total cost of restoring the National Museum will reportedly be around 100 million reais.

The blaze wiped out much of the museum's collection, dealing a hard blow to the main showcase of Brazil's anthropological heritage and history.