An online petition with over 125,000 signatures resists Macron’s plan to install contemporary stained-glass artwork in the side chapels of the Notre-Dame. The petition challenges the rationale of repairing windows with stained glass that withstood the fire.
The letter emphasizes the irony that while Macron aims for a contemporary touch, the cathedral has already been marked by the tragic fire that destroyed two-thirds of its roof, sparing only the iconic towers but irreparably damaging the spire.
The original windows, designed by architect Eugène Viollet-le-Duc and undamaged in the 2019 fire, are suggested to be preserved in a new museum dedicated to the history of Notre-Dame. Macron’s plan involves holding a competition for contemporary artists to create new stained-glass windows for six chapels on the cathedral’s south aisle, an idea initially proposed by Archbishop Laurent Ulrich.
The petition argues that Viollet-le-Duc intended Notre-Dame as a coherent whole, emphasizing architectural unity and spatial hierarchy, with the stained-glass windows playing a crucial role in his vision. Supporters of the petition express concern that replacing the original windows would lead to their storage and contend that altering the cathedral without a mandate is inappropriate.
Some names including Didier Rykner, the creator of La Tribune de l’Art, propose adding contemporary stained glass to the cathedral’s north tower, presenting it as a fair compromise that honors Viollet-le-Duc’s work and a memorial to the firefighters who sacrificed their lives fighting the fire.
The French Culture Ministry has largely adhered to Viollet-le-Duc’s vision, using medieval carpentry techniques and beams from 1,500 oaks to support the roof. Initially, Macron faced public outcry over plans to replace the 19th-century spire with a modern one, prompting him to reconsider.
As the restoration progresses, the interior still bears scars from the fire, but the roof and spire are anticipated to be completed by the Summer Games in July, attracting millions of visitors to Paris.