Simanaitis Says

On cars, old, new and future; science & technology; vintage airplanes, computer flight simulation of them; Sherlockiana; our English language; travel; and other stuff


TODAY’S PRINCIPAL THEME is Brazilian culture. Indeed, it’s tomorrow’s theme as well in Part 2. There’s timeliness, in reporting on a terrible fire that recently destroyed Brazil’s Museu Nacional. There’s a travel tale, in Wife Dottie’s meeting Senhor Tucano and bringing him home (along with a book on Brazilian sculpture). Tomorrow, we’ll view some of the sculpture and even encounter Mick Jagger. Talk about variety.

The Museum Fire. As described in The Atlantic, the losses at the Museu Nacional are equivalent to twice the total collection of the British Museum. This museum in Rio de Janeiro is not an art museum per se, but rather what we’d call a museum of natural history. Nevertheless, its losses of cultural and scientific treasures were profound.

Brazil’s 200-year-old Museu Nactional was destroyed by fire on September 2, 2018. Image by Ricardo Moraes/Reuters from The Atlantic.

By contrast, one of the museum’s treasures surviving the conflagration is the Bendegó meteorite. Consider: This 11,600-lb. rock discovered in 1784 had also survived the immense heat of falling through Earth’s atmosphere.

Wife Dottie’s Brazilian Adventure. Back in 1986, Dottie was R&T’s managing editor and visited Brazil on a Volkswagen press trip. One of the treasures with which she returned was Senhor Tucano, a 4.4-lb. toucan of artful stone. Another was Artistas da Escultura Brasileira/The Art of Brazilian Sculptors/Die Brazilianische Bildhauerkunst, coincidentally also weighing 4.4 lb. Senhor Tucano traveled in Dottie’s carryon; the book, stowed in her luggage.

No fool, Wife Dottie.

Senhor Tucano, artist unknown, varied stone, 14 in. from beak to tail.

Other Brazilian Sculpture. The 4.4-lb. art book, in oversize 11 in. x 12 1/2 in. format, was published by Volkswagen do Brasil S.A., the fifth in a cultural series including the earlier Colour in Brazilian Art; Masters of Brazilian Drawing, Brazilian Engraving, and The Art of Brazilian Ceramics. Like others in the series, the book was produced in limited edition, 4500 copies in the spring of 1986.

This book begins, “In primeval times, a wondrous gesture was made by Man—he took a stone and used it to cut and pound. He realized his power to change the functions of Nature’s elements. He created the first sculpture.”

Tomorrow in Part 2, I share images and commentary from this fine book. Mick Jagger has more than a walk-on role as well.

© Dennis Simanaitis,, 2018

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