They appealed for
The lack of investment may have doomed the museum, which was gutted on
While the cause is still under investigation, the loss is causing belated soul-searching about why
Hours after the fire, Brazilian President
The budget-squeezed museum had spent only
The museum languished even as the country lavished billions of dollars on sports stadiums and public works to host the 2014
The news website UOL recently compared spending on the museum to
Discussions about spending priorities come at a time when Brazilians have been battered by near-daily revelations of vast sums raked off of public contracts by political corruption, in total several billion dollars over more than a decade. Launched in 2014, the "Car Wash" investigation into inflated construction contracts and kickbacks to politicians has brought down dozens of the country's biggest names, including jailed former President
"The money exists, but those resources are wasted all year round," said Santos. "
The museum had a yearly budget of
Some funds came from the cost of admission to the museum, about
In the wake of the fire, some government ministers blamed the university for not spending enough to maintain the museum. The university, which has about 70,000 students, says its overall budget has been squeezed as well, falling from
Officials said that has translated into cuts to many things, including museum maintenance.
Frustration over the loss has seeped into the country's presidential campaign.
Before the fire, only two of the main presidential candidates had mentioned investment in culture in their platforms: environmentalist
Silva called the fire "a lobotomy in the Brazilian people" and pledged to increase funds for museums if elected. Haddad said "it is regrettable to see such neglect" in several Brazilian museums and cultural institutions, and promised change if elected.
One exception is poll leader Jair Bolsonaro, a far-right congressman who sometimes associates culture and art with left-leaning politics.
"It caught fire already. What do you want me to do?" Bolsonaro told reporters a few days after the blaze.