The Notre-Dame de Paris fire – up-date and actions by ICOMOS

Photo cathédrale Notre Dame articleDear members of ICOMOS,

The disastrous fire at Notre-Dame de Paris on 15 April shocked the world.

ICOMOS France and ICOMOS International renew their thanks to those who have expressed their sadness and concern for France.

This message aims to take stock of the current situation of the cathedral and to clarify the respective roles of ICOMOS France and ICOMOS International.

ICOMOS France will act as the focal point for ICOMOS on this matter: it will collect the information available and represent ICOMOS at the national level.

ICOMOS International is in contact with UNESCO and other international organisations and will represent ICOMOS at the international level.

ICOMOS France and ICOMOS International are closely working together to ensure their cooperation and to relay information to the members of our network.

ICOMOS will therefore speak with one voice at each level, which is important given the complexity of the situation.

The Cathedral of Notre-Dame is a French historical monument, but also belongs to the heritage of humanity. Thanks to the courage and professionalism of the firefighters, the destruction was contained and the irreparable avoided.

Despite the risks, architects and heritage conservators intervened from the very beginning alongside the staff of the cathedral, the fire brigade and other emergency services to save works of art (paintings, statues and objects), following the fire rescue protocol developed after previous similar disasters, including those of the Parliament of Rennes and the Château de Lunéville.

The origin of the fire is still unknown. First and foremost, the authorities requested that measures be taken to secure the building. The masonry has been consolidated and the building is currently equipped with a protective “umbrella”.

Forensic experts will intervene in the coming days to conduct their investigations. After this, the diagnostics of the building will be carried out by the most competent and appropriate heritage professionals.

ICOMOS France has written to the French President and to the French Minister of Culture to offer the services of the ICOMOS membership and to put our expertise, which covers all areas of heritage, at the service of the French authorities.

The media has echoed various controversies as well as many reactions that were more or less appropriate and well founded. This climate does not facilitate the calm and trusting environment necessary for actors and professionals of the heritage field as well as policy makers  to deal with the situation.

An emergency law has been prepared, validated by the French Council of State. This exceptional measure, which responds to an exceptional situation, can prove to be an asset provided that it is accompanied by the creation of a scientific committee that is involved in all stages of the monument’s restoration project.

ICOMOS France and ICOMOS International are doing their utmost to offer the expertise of our international network to the French government in an effective way with the objective of having one or more ICOMOS experts integrated into the scientific committee when it is established.

In the meantime, and in order to approach the situation in an orderly and coordinated way, the Secretariats of ICOMOS International and ICOMOS France are at your disposal to answer your questions and to gather your proposals.

Jean-Francois Lagneau                                                                Toshiyuki Kono

President of ICOMOS France                                                    President of ICOMOS


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