The National Museum in Rio de Janeira, Brazil is host to over
a million items related to zoology, botany, ehnology, and archeology.
The largest museum of it’s kind in Brazil, the National Museum
is housed in what was once the residence of the royal and imperial
family and known as the Palace of Quinta da Boa Vista for 81 years.
In 1889, the building was renovated and became the Palacio de Sao
Cristovao. It became the National Museum in 1818 when Dom Joao VI,
the King of Portugual named it the Royal Museum. With the opening
of the museum, Dom Joao VI hoped to spark scientific research in
Due to the fact that the early museum housed many species of birds,
it ironically became known as the ”Bird House.” Located
at that time in the center of Rio de Janeiro in what is now the
Praca da Republica, the National Museum primarily included animal
and botanical specimens. Today the museum not only runs postgraduate
training classes, it is also has what are considered to be the largest
collections of archeological, zoological, botanical and ethnological
items in the country. The library at the museum is home to well
over 300,000 books on these subjects as well.
It wasn’t until the marriage of D. Joao VI’s son, Dom
Pedro I to the Princess Leopoldina of Austria that the museum began
to attract the attention of some of Europe’s greatest naturalists.
Towards the end of the 19th century the museum began to branch out
to include studies and collections based in archeology, paleontology
and anthropology. The fact the Emperor at the time loved science
and himself collected quite a bit of the Ancient Egypt Art and botanical
fossils displayed in the museum, certainly helped it to become the
most well respected Natural History Museums on the continent.
In an attempt to boost the population of scientists in his country,
Dom Pedro II actually issued invitations of study at the museum
to many foreign scientists. Through this initial invitations, the
reputation of the museum continued to grow to the point where scientists
began to migrate without an invitation. Unfortunately, the Emperor
was removed in a military coup in 1889. It was at this time, however
that the Paco de Sao Cristovao was vacated and the Museum took up
residence in the palace.
Today the museum offers graduate courses in Anthropology, Sociology,
Zoology, Palentology, Geology and Botany. The University of Brazil
is responsible for it’s management and many of the offices
and laboratories occupy space within the building itself. The museum’s
collections including animals, insects, Egyptian mummies, South
American artifacts, fossils, meteorites, and minerals make up one
of the largest exhibits of any of the Americas.
Although you could never see everything in the museum, if you tire
and need to step outside for a change of pace – you may also
want to take a look around the
Quinta da Boa Vista, also known as the Park of the Nice View. Home
to the museum, the park is open to the public and once was the garden
of the palace. The Zoological Garden of Rio de Janeiro is also housed
here and currently boasts over 2000 species of animals who call
it home. The National Museum is located in what is known as the
North Zone in Rio de Janeiro.