Fire Damages Native Exhibit at Museum of Natural History in NYC

Work outside the American Museum of Natural History sent smoke inside the building, activating the sprinklers, causing damage to Native artifacts.

Work outside the American Museum of Natural History on Friday, December 12 sent smoke inside the building, and activated the emergency sprinkler system causing damage to artifacts in the Hall of Northwest Coast Indians, museum communication staff said.

Some welding was being done, which ignited a fire outside that was quickly extinguished, but not before smoke began circulating inside the building.

There is no actual fire damage to the objects; the damage is water damage from the sprinklers going off. The objects have been removed from the hall and are being observed by museum staff.

“There was a lot of water that spilled into that area, so the damage was all water damage,” FDNY Deputy Chief Joseph Schiralli told the New York Post.

An estimated 3,000 to 4,000 people evacuated the museum while the situation was contained, and no injuries were reported.

The Hall of Northwest Coast Indians remains closed, but the rest of the museum is open to the public.