The Getty Foundation has awarded a $240,000 grant to help restore critically important architectural archives damaged by an April 2021 fire.
The grant was awarded to the Núcleo de Pesquisa e Documentação (NPD) of the Faculty of Architecture and Urbanism (FAU) of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ).
Damaged materials include over 50,000 documents and 5,000 photographs from Brazilian architecture archives spanning the last 150 years. The fire occurred at the Jorge Machado Moreira building, which houses the collection at its Research and Documentation Center. Computers, printers, scanners, cameras, and other essential tools were also destroyed.
Established in 1982 as a nationwide effort to gather, organize, and analyze architectural documents, the Center holds over 300,000 documents and features projects by leaders in Brazilian modernism such as Lúcio Costa, Affonso Eduardo Reidy, Roberto Burle Marx, Carmen Portinho, Sérgio Bernardes, the Roberto Brothers, and Jorge Machado Moreira. The collection also includes European modernists, such as Le Corbusier.
“These collections are considered the most important architectural archives of modern Brazil’s Carioca School, so the conservation and long-term care of these priceless items is our highest priority,” said Dr. Andrés Martín Passaro, associate professor and coordinator of the NPD. “While soot and water permanently harmed a significant number of items and the Center is now unusable, we can take comfort in knowing the bulk of our collection will be given a new home with suitable environmental conditions.”
The grant will fund an 18-month project led by a team of paper and photography conservators, an archivist, and students from the Conservation and Restoration department at the Escola de Belas Artes and the FAU. The project team will re-house the collections in a safe, temperature-controlled environment to prevent future damage. They will also perform condition surveys, clean materials, and update the archival database with the team’s findings. Once items are stabilized, the team can provide training to students and staff on proper conservation methods. The university has already identified a new location in the same building for the approximately 38,500 collection items that will be conserved.