Some of the museum's treasures may have survived, including the remains of Luzia, an 11,500-year-old fossil believed to be the oldest human skeleton unearthed in the Americas.
The Museum of Anthropology has a similar ladle but it wasn't as intricate as the one that was destroyed, Duffek said. They found that hydrants near the museum had no water and they were forced to try to pump water from a badly polluted lake nearby. "Inside it there are delicate and inflammable pieces, a fabulous library", museum director Alexander Kellner told the Guardian.
But the extent of damage to the museum's collection could be catastrophic.
"We deeply regret the loss of this colossal treasure in the history of Brazil", Israel's honorary consul in Rio, Osias Wurman, said of the building in an interview with JTA. The complex was used as the residence of independent Brazil's emperors till 1889.
"It's important to keep in mind that the collections that were housed outside of the main building are still equivalent to those of major museums", says José Perez Pombal Junior, curator of the amphibians collection at the National Museum and faculty member at UFRJ (Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro), which manages the museum.
For example, a set of armour from Alaskan Tlingit territory dating back to the 1700s was taken by Russian collectors and later given to the Portuguese royal family as a gift to solidify a relationship between Russia and Portugal around 1812.
"The lost 200 years of experience, research and knowledge", wrote the President of Brazil. Don't enable us to lose our history, because it's the history of Brazil.
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As valuable as that specimen was to those who study the peopling of the Americas, it was nearly trivial in comparison to the vast scope of the museum, which was a cultural and scientific treasure.
"I don't know how many tens of thousands of insects and crustaceans were lost", he said.
"But the feeling I have about the museum is sadness". However, not only were these plans implemented too late, but the museum had also been suffering the effects of budget cuts and reduced funding for years since the financial crisis, which its partner - state-run UFRJ - suffered in 2016. Police attacked the students with pepper spray, tear gas and stun grenades. However, over the last three years it has received 60 percent or less of this amount. The closure had a lasting impact on attendance, which remained at record lows. The largest meteorite ever discovered in Brazil survived the flames.
DiLorenzo reported from Sao Paulo. "Many of its walls are peeling, there are electrical wires exposed and generalized poor maintenance".
After a fire tore through the museum Sunday, engineers were doing tests on the structure to make sure it wouldn't collapse.
"The Torah is being kept in a safe place", according to a museum statement sent to The Associated Press on Wednesday, adding it had been removed almost two years ago.
The destruction of the Brazilian National Museum stands as a stark warning to working people in Brazil and throughout the world. It quickly spread, engulfing the entire building.