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Notre-Dame crypt reopens with exhibition on cathedral’s turbulent history

CRYPT; NOTRE DAME
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A return to normality 18 months after a fire destroyed the building’s roof and steeple

A crypt located beneath the square in front of Notre-Dame cathedral is reopening on Wednesday, almost a year and half since a fire ravaged the famed Paris church.

It is perhaps fitting that the occasion of the first step of a return to normality is an exhibition of the cathedral’s turbulent history and previous return to glory after escaping destruction. 

In 1831, at the time Victor Hugo’s novel The Hunchback of Notre-Dame was published, Paris officials proposed tearing down a crumbling, abandoned Notre-Dame. 

As the exhibition relates, the publication of the novel resulted in a groundswell of public support for plans to restore the cathedral. Plans to tear it down were scrapped and between 1844 and 1864, the architect Eugene Viollet-Le-Duc completed the restoration of the cathedral into the building that we know today. 

According to a report in Barrons, the exhibition consists of photos, drawings, painting and films about the cathedral.

Before the fire, the crypt’s archaeological  museum, according  the report, saw about 170,000 visitors a year. 

Renovation work is underway on the cathedral itself, but has been delayed by concerns about lead pollution and because of the coronavirus epidemic.  

In July, the office of Presidential Emmanuel Macron announced that Notre-Dame cathedral would be restored “as closely as possible to its last complete state.” Previously the French president had asked architects to come up with proposals for a “contemporary” touch to the cathedral.

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