After the destruction, restoration. The Notre Dame Cathedral, among the greatest symbols of France, may be in ruins now but its champions have taken the first crucial steps in its restoration.
On Monday, April 15, 2019, when the massive fire struck the iconic cathedral, pledges of donations from a few of the country’s most prominent figures poured in. By Tuesday, the pledges increased to about €300 million – and counting, thanks to the numerous fundraisers in and out of France.
Even as the flames from the Notre Dame fire were lighting up the Paris skyline, the Pinault family was the first to publicly pledge donations for the cathedral’s reconstruction. According to François-Henri Pinault, the chairman of Artemis, the family holding company controlling Kering, the second-largest luxury group in the country, “The Notre-Dame tragedy strikes all French people, as well as all those with spiritual values.”
Pinault then announced that he and his father pledge to donate €100 million as their part in fully rebuilding Notre-dame de Paris. He added that everybody wishes to bring back to life the jewel in French heritage as soon as possible.
Shortly afterward, Bernard Arnault and his family as well as LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton pledged €200 million. Arnault is the richest man in France and LVMH is among
Shortly afterward, the Arnault family and LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, led by Bernard Arnault, the richest man in France, announced that they would give €200 million. Arnault also said that the LVMH Group offers its creative and architectural teams including its financial specialists at the disposal of the state and other authorities in helping with the fundraising and reconstruction work.
Dozens of fundraisers, both in the traditional manner and via online sites, are also cropping up as part of an increasingly concerted effort to repair the beloved structure. French President Emmanuel Macron has also committed to launching a national fundraiser in order to speed up Notre Dame’s reconstruction.
According to Dr. Emily Guerry, a senior lecturer in medieval European history at the University of Kent in the United Kingdom, the reconstruction can take from 20 to 40 years. But President Macron has promised to complete the gargantuan task within five years.
While making donations for the reconstruction of the 850-year old cathedral is admirable no matter the status in life, experts warn against contributing without doing your research. GoFundMe, for example, has dozens of fundraisers but not everything seems to be legitimate.
Instead, interested individuals can look into these legitimate organizations to ensure that, indeed, their donations will be put to good use.
The Friends of Notre Dame is a public charity founded by the Diocese of Paris and the Archbishop of Paris, and it’s dedicated toward the structure’s maintenance, repair and renovation. The charity has previously warned that the Notre Dame is in desperate need of attention, especially its pinnacles, crockets, and gargoyles, among others.
The French Heritage Society has launched its Notre Dame Fire Restoration Fund. The organization is dedication toward the preservation of France’s cultural and architectural heritage on French and American soil. According to Jennifer Herlein, its executive director, the organization will make a direct grant to the project through its Notre Dame Cathedral contacts.
The Notre Dame Foundation has also launched its own international fundraising effort. In a tweet, the foundation cautioned the public about the increase in foreign fundraisers and private French fundraisers that have coincided with the tragedy.
But money may be the least of the problems that the concerned authorities have to face regarding the reconstruction of Notre Dame. The cathedral has been modified several times in its 850-year history that it can be a challenge to follow its architectural history. The structure also has elaborate details that may have to be reconstructed from scratch.
Fortunately, there are methods and resources that the cathedral restorers can use during the formidable task ahead. When the cathedral was hit by the massive fire, it was in the middle of renovation work and, thus, the restorers have something to start on.
The restorers may also use the 3D laser scanning images captured by the late Andrew Tallon, a former professor of art at Vassar College and an art historian, which he made four years ago. By using lasers in scanning the cathedral in painstaking detail, he produced an almost-perfect replica of the most famous Gothic structure in the world.
The spatial map of the cathedral was made by using over a billion laser-measured points across the structure. The digital model will be of crucial importance since it shows in nearly exact detail the Notre Dame’s appearance before the fire that destroyed its spire, among others. The structure itself has remained standing but it isn’t out of the woods yet.
The data will also likely be used to recreate the accurate measurements of the overall structure including its beams. This will also prove useful in the reconstruction of the spire’s intricate details.
With these efforts, the world will marvel again at the glory and beauty of the Notre Dame Cathedral!