The Catholic Archdiocese of Paris plans to present its plans for the restoration of the interior of the Notre-Dame Cathedral next week.
The proposal has drawn backlash, with some news outlets and critics saying it would turn the Notre-Dame into a “politically correct Disneyland” full of “emotional spaces” and “discovery trails.”
The plans include Bible quotes projected in multiple languages on the walls, and contemporary art installations in place of the 19th century confessionals including “portraits from the 16th and 18th century that will be in dialogue with modern art objects” called a “cycle of tapestries.”
Traditional straw chairs would be replaced with illuminated benches able to retract into the floor. Lighting from the ceiling would be removed, replaced with “softer lights at head height.” The tabernacle and baptistery, along with most of the confessionals, will be moved as well away from the main floor. Visitors instead would enter from the large central door, rather than side entrances.
Father Gilles Drouin, denied the plans were radical, saying the goal is to preserve Notre-Dame as a religious place that can welcome the public “who are not always from a Christian culture,” because for example “Chinese visitors may not necessarily understand the Nativity.”
Maurice Calot, an architect who has seen the plans, said “it’s as if Disney were entering Notre-Dame.”
“What they are proposing to do to Notre-Dame would never be done to Westminster Abbey or St. Peter’s in Rome. It’s a kind of theme park and very childish and trivial given the grandeur of the place.”
The plans must still ultimately be approved by France’s Ministry of Culture.
Notre-Dame is set to reopen in 2024 in time for the Summer Olympics. Still, the cause of the fire has yet to be identified.