Macron’s Move to Install Modern Stained-Glass Art in Notre-Dame Elicits Fury

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The Notre-Dame Cathedral

French President Emmanuel Macron during his visit to the construction site of the Notre-Dame Cathedral on December 8, 2023, hinted at replacing the windows of the cathedral created by architect Eugène Viollet-le-Duc in 1859, with modern stained glass art. Well, this is not ‘good news’ as some social media users have criticised the idea.

Macron told the media during his visit that there would be a contest between six artists who could create or produce stained-glass art for the revamping of the fire-afflicted cathedral despite the ‘no damage’ nature of the existing cathedral windows.

Over 125,000 online users have signed a petition to kick against Macron’s plans to modernise a part of the ancient Notre-Dame Cathedral.

Didier Rykner, the creator of the petition and editor of La Tribune de l’Art contends that the French president does not have the power to alter state properties as he pleases. He suggests that the contemporary stained-glass art he wants to install for six of the seven chapels of the Notre-Dame could rather be moved to the north tower of the cathedral, where the 2019 fire indelibly left its mark.

“How can we justify restoring stained glass windows that survived the disaster and then immediately remove them? Who gave the head of state the mandate to alter a cathedral that does not belong to him, but to everyone,” a letter, published by La Tribune de l’Art, emphasises.

It continues: “Emmanuel Macron wants to put the mark of the 21st century on Notre-Dame de Paris. A little modesty might be best. We will not be cruel enough to remind you that this mark already exists: fire.”

Meanwhile, the undamaged 1859 windows will be relocated to a new museum dedicated to Notre-Dame’s restoration.

“If these windows were to be replaced, they would certainly end up in storage crates,” the letter also speculated, “because exhibiting them in the museum would actually double the scandal of their removal,” the petition reads in response.

The Notre-Dame is currently 80 percent out of the rubble after the devasting 2019 fire destroyed a larger part of the cathedral from the roof to its spire. However, there is hope as the reopening is expected to happen on December 8, 2024.

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