The devastating fire that has so severely damaged Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris has caused great sorrow worldwide. Not only has there been substantial loss from one of the world’s most important Gothic cathedrals, but it has been emotionally felt by us all, being so well known through history, tourism and personal connection. IIC joins with the French people in grieving over this tragic event.
Difficult as it is at this time to look forward, IIC, as the international community of professional conservators, is emboldened by the experience of other such disasters to see how some good can come from this event.
The French President, Emmanuel Macron, has already committed his Government to the process of rebuilding and regeneration of the Cathedral and various parties have offered substantial sums for this work. This should ensure that the cathedral is restored in the most appropriate way, informed by research, investigation and discussion about what has been lost and what can be rebuilt.
Our profession will play a vital part in the conservation of the surviving elements, from the artefacts within to the building’s fabric. Conservators also offer expertise in the techniques and methods of past craftspeople, and preserve the skills that will enable the rebuilding and future maintenance of the Cathedral.
We also pay tribute to the Paris Fire Brigade, who saved Notre Dame from an even greater disaster. We know now that the cathedral was within "15 to 30 minutes of complete destruction" when, crucially, firefighters remained inside the building to stop the flames reaching its bell towers. Last year Lieutenant-Colonel Thierry Burger, Fire Prevention Advisor for Heritage Assets at the French Ministry of Culture and Communication, spoke to us about the work of the Paris Fire Brigade and its connection to protecting cultural heritage. You can watch his talk from our Dialogue ‘Culture Cannot Wait’ below.
IIC stands with our French colleagues at SFIIC (Section Française de l'IIC ) and beyond in offering whatever support and assistance we can to ensure this iconic building is fully restored to its rightful place in Paris and in the hearts of those who treasure it around the world.