We had the pleasure to design the new website of the project “a philosophical trip to Brazil by Alexandre Rodrigues Ferreira”, from the Lisbon Science Academy.
This website gives everyone a closer look at the story of this trip. One of the most ambitious scientific investigations in Brazil, where we can virtually see the collection that is available, physically, at the Maynense Museum, at the Academy of Sciences, in Lisbon.
About 200 years ago, at the behest of Melo e Castro (Secretary of State for Business and Navy), the naturalist of D. Maria I (Alexandre Rodrigues Ferreira) was tasked with carrying out a scientific expedition (hence the term “philosophical journey”) in the captaincies of Grão-Pará, Rio Negro, Mato Grosso and Cuiabá, in Brazil.
With few resources, Alexandre Rodrigues Ferreira, accompanied by the designers or ‘scribers’, José Codina and José Joaquim Freire, and the botanical gardener Agostinho do Cabo, arrived in Belém do Pará, in October 1783.
Of the thousands of natural and ethnographic specimens that Alexandre Rodrigues Ferreira sent from Brazil to Lisbon on this trip, only those found in the Science Museum of the University of Coimbra, the National Museum of Natural History and Science and the Academy of Sciences in Lisbon remain.
The Amazon rainforest, where this expedition was carried out, is still the largest biodiversity reserve in the world today. It is urgent to preserve it. The idea of preserving nature is evident in the hearts of all indigenous peoples. This is evidenced by the letter from the Seattle Indian (1855), from which the following excerpt is extracted:
«(…) Any part of this land is sacred to my people. Any pine leaf, any beach, the mist of the dark woods, the bright and humming insect, everything is sacred in the memory and experience of my people. The sap that runs through the trees carries the memories of the red man (…) »
«(…) Where is the undergrowth? Disappeared. Where’s the eagle? Disappeared. The end of living and the beginning of surviving. »
This exhibition counted on the collaboration of Professor Maria Salomé Pais, senior technicians Sérgio Lourenço, Diana Carvalho and António Teixeira and the scholarship holders Diogo Mota, Marta Santos and Maria Inês Alves to whom we are very grateful.
Thanks are also due to the Director of the Museum of Natural History and Science of Lisbon, Doctor Marta Lourenço, and to Doctor Ana Isabel Correia for providing images of herbarium leaves by Alexandre Rodrigues Ferreira.