Critics say plans for the interior of Notre Dame will make the cathedral a ‘politically correct Disneyland’
Leaked plans to modernize the interior of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris sparked anger this week, with some comparing the proposed redevelopment to Disneyland.
The iconic cathedral is currently being meticulously restored after being devastated by fire in 2019. The French government is overseeing the structural restoration and conservation of the cathedral, and cathedral authorities are responsible for its interior.
The plans were not officially announced but became public when they were discovered during a May video conference uploaded to YouTube. In the video, Father Gilles Drouin, director of the Liturgical Institute of Paris and priest in charge of interior restoration, gives an overview to the General Secretariat of Catholic Education in France.
Last Friday the British Conservative Newspaper The Spectator took hold of the video’s revelations.
” Damn it ! Plans are underway to transform the once restored Notre Dame Cathedral into what some have called a ‘politically correct Disneyland’ ”, declared writer Harry Mount.
“Because people are not as familiar with the interior of Notre Dame, there is more leeway for the anti-history brigade to prevail,” Mount wrote.
The journalist then identified two members of this so-called brigade – the Archbishop of Paris Michel Aupetit and Christian Rousselot, the director general of the Notre-Dame Foundation.
“It’s Notre Dame de Paris transformed into Disneyland”, Parisian architect Maurice Culot Recount The Journal of the Arts. “We are rebuilding the cathedral and the spire as they were, with old materials like stone, wood and lead, and now we will have a theme park for foreign tourists inside.”
So what exactly are these garish plans? Spinning teacups? Brightly colored plastic furniture? Animated images of biblical characters?
Well, not exactly.
The plan is to include contemporary art alongside medieval art and warm lighting located just above head height in place of some of the cathedral’s rarely used confessionals. Bible verses in multiple languages are also included in the design for the benefit of non-Christian visitors. In addition, portable benches that can be moved to accommodate larger crowds will replace the fixed seats.
Father Drouin denies that a radical plan is being prepared.
“For eight centuries, Notre Dame de Paris has been constantly evolving and the Church intends to renew the tradition of commissions from living artists,” he declared. AFP, the French press agency.
Drouin said Notre Dame “was not suited to cope” with the large crowds of up to 12 million tourists the cathedral received before the fire. Visitors “come for different reasons, most of them from non-Christian or post-Christian cultures.” The priest pointed to the increase in the number of Chinese visitors to the Notre-Dame chapel dedicated to a Chinese martyr, which followed the installation of explanatory banners in Mandarin.
Criticism of the interior is just the latest setback for those undertaking the restoration of the historic building. The project schedule has already expired and the completion target will almost certainly not be met. Completion of the reconstruction was originally scheduled for April 16, 2024 – the fifth anniversary of the fire – with Paris hosting the Olympic Games later in the year. However, experts say parts of the church – including the cathedral spire – cannot be completed on time.
The plans must now be submitted to the French Ministry of Culture for approval.