The organ will be dismantled and temporarily withdrawn from Notre-Dame, here on July 22, 2020. - LUDOVIC MARIN / AFP

It is a real "building site in the building site" of the restoration of Notre-Dame de Paris, in the words of General Jean-Louis Georgelin, president of the public establishment responsible for the conservation and restoration of the cathedral. The removal of its large organ, which will have to be cleaned piece by piece, will begin on Monday, the public establishment announced in a press release on Saturday. A 30-meter scaffolding had been mounted all around, in July, to allow this smooth removal.

Voice of the cathedral since 1733, the great symphonic organ of Notre-Dame de Paris has 8,000 pipes divided into 115 stops which make it the largest instrument in France (in terms of number of stops). In the fire in April 2019, it was not affected by the flames, received relatively little water during the firefighters' response, but was covered with lead dust. Some parts then suffered from the thermal variations undergone by the cathedral since the fire, in particular during the heatwave of July 2019. The organ will require thorough cleaning and restoration which will take place between 2021 and 2024.

The great organ and the west rose window, intact. - Patrick Zachmann / Magnum Photos

Work begins on Monday with the removal of the keyboard console and will continue with the dismantling of all 8,000 pipes until the end of the year. All the dismantled elements will be stored in four waterproof containers. A call for tenders will be published for the cleaning, restoration and reassembly of the instrument.

The organ must be able to resonate in 2024

“Our ambition, explained General Jean-Louis Georgelin, is to restore the instrument to the operating state it was in before the fire, and six months will be necessary for its agreement and harmonization”. "It was therefore essential, he added, to launch this operation as quickly as possible so that the great organ can resonate in mid-April 2024", during the Te Deum which  he intends to organize in the cathedral, five years after the fire, in accordance with President Macron's wishes.

While the dismantling of the scaffolding which surrounded the spire at the time of the fire began at the end of spring - a titanic job which should be completed in September - the preparatory work for the dismantling of the great organ was carried out in parallel in a more discreet way.


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