Just weeks after UNESCO added new sites to its registry of World Heritage Sites, another site, recognized by the organization in 1991, will be honoured by an exhibition at the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles. Notre Dame, the historic centre of Paris, begun in 1160, and on April 15th of this year tragically burned before the eyes of thousands will feature in ‘An Enduring Icon: Notre-Dame Cathedral.’
The church has long stood as an icon for France. It’s the point by which distance is measured from Paris to other French cities. It’s a religious place of pilgrimage, an impressive example of medieval architecture, and a meeting place for Parisians and tourists alike. Over its 850-year history, the cathedral had morphed and grown with the times. Its structure was no different and consisted of medieval wooden beams, upon which its well-known spire, built in the 19th century but then toppled during the blaze. The church was also home to numerous relics, works or priceless art, and incredible crafted items. These objects would have most certainly perished in the fire but on the evening of the fire, first responders and cathedral staff saved many of the items that make Notre Dame what it is. Miraculously, the intricate rose windows dating back to the 13th century also survived the fire.
On July 23rd, the Getty Museum welcomed an exhibition that celebrates the works that ‘showcase the rich cultural legacy’ of Notre Dame and its influence on the world. It will also explore the layered and complex history of the cathedral as additions were built and it survived major historic events including the disrepair it faced during the French Revolution. ‘An Enduring Icon’ will also look at the individuals, like writer Victor Hugo (1802-1885), architect Eugène Viollet-le-Duc (1814-1879), and architect Jean-Baptiste Lassus, who helped bring the cathedral to its heightened status as an emblem of France and the archdiocese of Paris.
‘The recent fire at Notre-Dame reverberated around the world, with millions of people watching the event unfold live on their screens,’ said Timothy Potts, director of the J. Paul Getty Museum, in the exhibition’s press release. ‘We thought it appropriate at this moment to illuminate the artistic and cultural impact that Notre-Dame has played in European history, drawing on the rich holdings of the Museum and the Getty Research Institute. The exhibition presents paintings, photographs, engravings, and rare books that commemorate the enduring importance of the Cathedral, which has served as a symbol of Paris for more than eight centuries, through iconoclasm and wars.’
‘An Enduring Icon: Notre-Dame Cathedral’ will exhibit at the J. Paul Getty Museum from July 23rd through October 20th in the East Pavilion of the museum.