Thursday, May 20, 2010

Tragedy

If you ever doubted the importance of fire suppression in your museum, this story from Brazil will demonstrate why fire comes out as public enemy #1 in any risk assessment project. The Instituto Butantan in is a biomedical research center affiliated with the State Secretary of Health's office in São Paulo. Over the course of the last 100 years, it had built up one of the world's largest museum collections of venemous snakes - over 80,000 specimens - together with large holdings of spiders, scorpions, and other poisonous invertebrates. On Saturday the whole lot went up in flames, for reasons that are not yet known. The fact that the specimens were fluid-preserved was a significant factor in the severity of the blaze. A couple of weeks ago, I posted a piece on the irreplaceable nature of collections; I guess this just rams home that point - 100 years to build; gone in just a few hours.

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