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Getty Foundation Grants $240K to Architectural Archive Damaged by Fire

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Getty News

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.

Shelves with damaged archive boxes in the Research and Documentation Center library room, 2021. Photo: Andres Passaro

“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.

Faculdade Nacional de Arquitetura Building at Cidade Universitária of Rio de Janeiro, 1957. Photograph on positive paper, 18.0 x 24.0 cm

“The Getty Foundation’s Keeping It Modern initiative, which has funded conservation planning for modernist buildings around the world, including Brazil, has demonstrated the importance of such unique archival collections for preservation efforts,” said Joan Weinstein, director of the Getty Foundation. “The history of postwar buildings in Brazil is essential to the development of modernism as a whole, and saving these collections is critical to understanding that legacy.”

Among Getty’s Keeping It Modern projects in Brazil have been Lino Bo Bardi’s Museu de Arte de São Paulo and Casa de Vidro, João Batista Vilanova Artigas’s Faculty of Architecture and Urban Planning at the University of São Paulo, and Jorge Ferreira’s Arthur Neiva Pavilion. Of the 77 sites Getty is helping to conserve worldwide, the majority involve the development of conservation management plans that draw heavily on archival materials such as those housed in the Jorge Machado Moreira building.

“Preservation professionals rely on collections like these to care for modern buildings,” said Silvio Oksman, an internationally recognized preservation architect based in São Paulo who has led several Keeping It Modern grants in Brazil. “We consult drawings, photographs, building models, and other historic documents to get the fullest picture of how architects conceived of their projects and ensure we preserve this 20th-century heritage in the best way. It is a huge relief to the field to know these crucial materials will be saved.”

Author: Roberto Burle Marx

Study for Artistic Mural at Pedregulho Social Housing


Gouache on Canson paper 55.0 x 151.0 cm

Approximate date: 1946

Author: Affonso Eduardo Reidy

Section of Pedregulho Social Housing Complex.

Positive Paper 11.0 x 14.0 cm

Approximate date: 1946

Author: Jorge Machado Moreira

Faculdade Nacional de Arquitetura Building at

Cidade Universitária of Rio de Janeiro.

Perspective 23.5 x 32.0 cm

Approximate date: 1957

Author: Andres Passaro

NPD Consultation Area Photo

Date: 2021

Author: Andres Passaro

NPD Consultation Area Photo

Date: 2021


Project Coordinators:

Andrés Passaro—Associate Professor at FAU UFRJ / NPD Coordinator
Ana Slade—Adjunct Professor at FAU UFRJ / NPD Council Member
Carlos Feferman—Associate Professor at FAU UFRJ/ Architecture Department Chair

NPD Team
Cláudio Muniz Vianna—NPD Archivist
Jonas Delecave—Adjunct Professor at FAU UFRJ
Mara Eskinazi—Associate Professor at FAU/UFRJ
Maria Cristina Cabral—Associate Professor at FAU UFRJ/ NPD Council Member
Marina Correia—Architect anda Harvard Architecture Professor/ NPD Council External Member
Mauricio Mattos—NPD FAU Archivist
Ozana Hannesch—Astronomy Museum/ Conservator- restoration of paper
Document Conservator-Restoration (to be supported by Getty)
Benvinda de Jesus Ribeiro—Associate Professor at EBA UFRJ / Conservation Team Coordinator
Thais Helena de Almeida—National Library/ Conservator-restoration of paper Team Coordinator
Ana Paula Corrêa—Adjunct Professor at EBA UFRJ / Conservator-restoration of paper
Sandra Baruki—Conservator-restoration of photography Coordinator

By Naser Nader Ibrahim

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