Following a devastating fire this September, Google has released a virtual tour of the National Museum of Brazil, the country’s oldest natural history institution. The digital recreation is presented by Museum View (which uses the same functionality as Google Street View), and allows visitors to explore the institution’s key artifacts as they were displayed before this year’s tragic destruction. The online tour includes a view of Luzia (the oldest skeleton found in the Americas), 3000-year-old Brazilian ceramics, a collection of butterflies and moths currently under threat for extinction, and the museum’s mummified cat.
It’s estimated that the museum lost up to 92.5 percent of its 20 million artifacts in the fire—global relics, pottery, and animal specimens that had been collected by the institution since its founding in 1818. Its digital remains are the result of a collaborative project between the museum and Google, which began in 2016. Despite the horrific loss, the museum’s director Alexander Kellner expresses strength and hope for the institution’s future in a letter in Google’s Arts and Culture section. “It is important to stress that the National Museum, despite having lost a significant part of its collection, has not lost its ability to generate knowledge!”