The Museums and the Construction of Natural Sciences in Brazil in the 19th Century

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  • This paper traces the history of natural science museums in 19th-century Brazil and describes how museum directors influenced their development. The author discusses her subject against the backdrop of Brazil's history to write of the Museu Nacional do Rio de Janeiro (National Museum) and several other museums that were organized in the provinces. The National Museum was the oldest, officially created in 1818, and after renovations in 1876, blossomed under Ladislau Netto's directorship. The provincial Museu Botanico do Amazonas in Manaus was operated almost single-handedly by Director Juan Barbosa Rodrigues, a rival of Netto; correspondence sent to Smithsonian Institution Secretary Spencer F. Baird in 1884 suggested that any recognition the Smithsonian might make of the existence of the Botanical Museum would be highly appreciated by Rodrigues.
  • Another provincial museum was the Museu Paulista founded in Sao Paulo in 1894. Hermann von Ihering was its director for 22 years. He had read "Principles of Museum Administration" by United States National Museum Director George Brown Goode in 1895 and corresponded with Goode regarding plans for the Museum Paulista. Ihering also saw the importance of international exchanges, and maintained a close exchange program with the Smithsonian's National Museum.


  • Ihering, Hermann von
  • Rodrigues, Juan Barbosa
  • Netto, Ladislau
  • Baird, Spencer Fullerton 1823-1887
  • Goode, G. Brown (George Brown) 1851-1896
  • Museu Paulista
  • Museu Botanico do Amazonas
  • Museu Nacional (Brazil)
  • United States National Museum


Smithsonian Institution History Bibliography


Seven figures and "Notes" and "Bibliography" sections accompany the article.

Contained within

Cultures and Institutions of Natural History: Essays in the History and Philosophy of Science (Book)

Contact information

Institutional History Division, Smithsonian Institution Archives, 600 Maryland Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20024-2520,




  • Secretaries
  • Museums
  • Museum architecture
  • Exchanges, Literary and scientific
  • Philosophy
  • Museums--Philosophy
  • Museum directors



Physical description

pgs. 81-100

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