Culture / Art Republik

Proposed Notre Dame Revamp Sparks Controversy

Proposals by Catholic church officials to restore the Notre Dame have ruffled the feathers of some critics.

Dec 03, 2021 | By Sarah Ridzwan
notre dame
Image: Unsplash/Marcel Strauss

Critics are fearing the new Notre Dame will be more “Disneyland” instead of “revered church”. A new tourist-centric proposal to restore the interior of Notre Dame by Catholic church officials was presented during a video conference earlier this year.

The project was not formally announced, Father Gilles Drouin provided a small summary during the virtual conference in May which has been posted on YouTube.

According to the Daily Telegraph, the proposed changes include a “discovery trail” inside the building where it tells the story of the bible in different languages across different chapels, with each chapel dedicated to a different international culture. The last stop on the tour will be touching on environmental focus.

notre dame sculptures
Image: Unsplash/Stephanie LeBlanc

Altars, classical sculptures, and confessional boxes will be replaced with modern murals and audio and light installations meant to take visitors on a journey from “darkness to light”. Father Drouin also plans to replace bulky straw chairs with luminous “mobile benches” that can be removed to allow space for more visitors.

The proposal was backed by Michel Aupetit, the Archbishop of Paris, who praised the plan for bringing the “cathedral into the 21st century while preserving its own identity in the spirit of the Christian tradition”. However, the renovation proposal has roused several critics, such as conservative newspaper The Telegraph, denouncing it as a “woke” revamp.

notre dame
Image: Unsplash/Nivenn Lanos

“It’s Notre Dame de Paris turned into Disneyland. It does not make any sense,” Maurice Culot, a Paris-based architect and theorist told The Art Newspaper. “How could a priest choose, on his own, the interior decoration of a cathedral that belongs to the universal heritage of humanity and is being rebuilt with donations coming from all over the world?”

Father Drouin’s proposal of the renovated interior design of the Notre Dame will be presented before France’s National Heritage and Architecture Commission on December 9.

Jean-Louis Georgelin, the army general who leads the special agency in charge of Notre Dame’s reconstruction, is working double-time to keep the promise made by President Emmanuel Macron to reopen the monument before the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris. 

notre dame stained glass
Image: Unsplash/Ilse Orsel

On a lighter note, Art Basel Miami is back after a hiatus due to the pandemic. This year’s edition features many highlights such as Louis Vuitton’s “Objects Nomade” collection, Saint Laurent’s “Ephemeral Gallery” several NFT exhibitions.

Also happening in Miami just in time for Art Basel, Dom Pérignon is launching a Yacht Concierge. The Dom Pérignon yacht will set sail along Biscayne Bay from December 1 to December 4 and will be providing you with luxurious champagnes right to your waterfront residence or boat. The service has three luxurious packages which include glassware, a Dom Pérignon ice bucket, and cases of champagne.

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