Precious Сarpet to Be Shown at Notre-Dame Cathedral
A precious antique saved from fire at Notre-Dame Cathedral will soon go on display for a limited time in Paris. The massive 19th-century carpet, used only on special occasions, was carried out of the burning cathedral by firefighters
“We saw it (the carpet) for very big events – I wasn’t at all of them of course because events date right back – but for example the first time there was a live broadcast of a mass at the cathedral in 1948, the carpet was rolled out, of course. The carpet was rolled out again for the first visit of Pope John Paul II to France. It measures very particular moments in our national history. And then, as I said before, a very particular iconography, this neo-Gothic style – which personally I don’t hate – it is very well represented in this work, so there we are – all these elements plus its tragic story of the Notre Dame fire makes it a piece to which we’re obviously very attached,” Mobilier National Furniture Conservation Center Director Herve Lemoine said.
Known as the Monumental Carpet of the Notre-Dame Choir, it narrowly escaped destruction during the April 15 fire at the cathedral, when firefighters saved it from the flames. However, it sustained damage and is awaiting restoration at the Mobilier National, France’s center for the preservation of historic furniture.
Lemoine said that a team of conservators began a preservation operation immediately after the fire. The saturated carpet weighed two tonnes, twice its usual weight, and after transporting it to the museum, the team dried and froze the carpet to prevent the growth of fungus and parasites.
“So the main damage it suffered was that it got soaked during the necessary operations to contain the fire, and a wool carpet rolled and soaked, one can imagine very quickly with such heat, because of the fire and also because at that time we were at the start of the period where it begins to be hot in Paris – and it can very quickly develop fungus, certain parasites, which can devour the wool and damage the weaving of the carpet. For us, the goal was to get it out as quickly as possible from the cathedral, and immediately unroll it and dry it out, it was the first operation,” Lemoine said.
The carpet has been on display only twice in the past 30 years, but can be viewed during Paris’s European Heritage Days on Sep. 21 and 22, when buildings usually closed to the public open their doors for visits.
Visitors to the historic furniture storage room will also be able to see other treasures, such as a chair belonging to Queen Marie-Antoinette, and a cabinet usually in the office of the President of France.