Notre-Dame de Paris has been closed for restoration since April 2019, after a massive fire destroyed its roof, which crashed through the vaults below. As reconstruction work advances, the cleaning and restoration of Notre-Dame’s stained glass windows, which survived the heat and the flames, also goes forward.
Almost three years after the tragic blaze, eight French glass manufactures are currently cleaning and restoring around 40 windows in the main nave, the choir, the transept, and the sacristy of the medieval Parisian cathedral. As explained in the note published by Reuters, “the windows were heavily soiled with smoke and dust, which blocked external light and obscured the range of colors” of the glass.
The glass-cleaning process is painstaking. It involves the patient rubbing of the surface of the window with cotton soaked in water and ethanol. The process needs to be delicately repeated until all the deposits of dust and smoke are collected — this, without damaging the glass.
Flavie Serriere Vincent-Petit, head of the Vincent-Petit stained-glass company, is in charge of restoring 22 of the 39 windows of the cathedral. “There is a major cleaning phase, to wash off both the blaze’s dust and the dirt resulting from human breath, as well as candle soot, so we can put the windows back into place and give back full brightness to Notre-Dame,” she said to Reuters.
The teams involved in the restoration aim at the reopening of the cathedral in 2024, when France will host the Olympic Games.