The 8,000-pipe organ survived the April 2019 fire that consumed the cathedral’s roof and toppled its spire. It will take four years to complete the restoration work.
The mammoth task of dismantling, cleaning and re-assembling the Notre Dame Cathedral's organ has started after last year's devastating fire.
Pipe by precious pipe, the organ that once thundered through cathedral is being taken apart and its complete restoration is expected to take nearly four years.
It will take six months just to tune the organ, and its music isn't expected to resound again through the medieval Paris monument until 2024, according to the state agency overseeing Notre Dame’s restoration.
Amazingly, the 8,000-pipe organ survived the April 2019 fire that consumed the cathedral’s roof and toppled its spire.
But the blaze coated the instrument in toxic lead dust that must now be painstakingly removed.
“It is an absolute miracle that it has survived. An organ like this is enormous and looks indestructible, but it is actually very fragile,” Olivier Latry, one of Notre-Dame’s official organ players, told Europe 1 radio.
And while the organ didn’t burn, it did suffer damage from a record heatwave last summer and has been affected by other temperature variations it has been exposed to since the 12th-century cathedral lost its roof, the agency said.
How the restoration works
Experts started removing the organ’s keyboards on Monday and will then take out its pipes in a dismantling process that will last through the end of this year, according to the restoration agency.
The pieces will be placed in special containers inside the huge cathedral, where the cleaning and restoration will take place.
The general who leads the agency said the organ, which dates from 1733, will next play again on April 16, 2024, marking five years since the fire.
President Emmanuel Macron hopes the cathedral can reopen in time for the 2024 Olympics in Paris.
But it’s taken more than a year to clear out dangerous lead residue and scaffolding that had been in place before the fire for a previous renovation effort, and reconstruction of the landmark has yet to begin.