The Notre Dame de Paris Museum Could Open in 2026

Source: FSSPX News

The Hôtel-Dieu seen from the square in front of Notre Dame de Paris

In the wake of the momentum of the reconstruction of the Paris cathedral, the idea of a museum dedicated to Notre Dame has gained ground. Already in the summer of 2023, the project had taken shape: the Minister of Culture announced that she was entrusting a preliminary study for the creation of a museum dedicated to the Paris cathedral to the Director of the National Heritage Institute (INP).

A statement from the Ministry of Culture on July 7, 2023, announced that a “prefiguration mission for the creation of the museum dedicated to the cathedral” was officially entrusted to Charles Personnaz, Director of the National Heritage Institute (INP), according to Connaissance des Arts.

The President’s Wish

The idea was pushed by President Emmanuel Macron: “Because it is a part of our national destiny, our history, and it still has so much to show, I am in favor of a reflection concerning the creation of a museum which will be dedicated to it,” he stated on April 14, 2023, as the same newspaper reports.

The Director of the INP “will have the task of carrying out ‘a broad consultation of stakeholders’ in order to define the main directions of the project,” Connaissance des Arts explains: the wishes of the government, cultural circles, the Archdiocese of Paris, and those in charge of the place that would accomodate this space dedicated to the cathedral must be taken into consideration.

Since the announcement of the Ministry of Culture, ideas have burst forth from all quarters. But one of the most significant already proposed “the reuse of the spaces of the former Hôtel-Dieu, located on the square 150m from the cathedral,” the review notes. It gives details: “Established on the Île de la Cité since the 7th century, burned three times and reconstructed in the 19th century, the hospital today is dilapidated.”

Restoration projects have been launched--for costs varying between 350 and 500 million euros--but “Greater Paris University Hospitals (AP-HP) has however declared itself in favor, in 2020, of making the building available for the reception of pilgrims and for the creation of a preservation space for Notre Dame,” Connaissance des Arts specifies.

The INP Report Before the National Assembly

The Director of the INP submitted a “report on the museum’s proposed concept” in February 2024, cowritten with Jonathan Truillet, the “deputy of science and heritage at the public institution Rebuild Notre Dame de Paris.” The two authors “proposed in their (unpublished) report on the future museum that it should have a large area of ‘7,000 to 9,000 square meters’,” according to La Croix.

A question arises about the exact location within the Hôtel-Dieu: the two curators are not satisfied with the “proposal that the AP-HP made to rent only 5,000 square meters away from the forecourt.” They hope that “the decision on its exact location within the Hotel-Dieu would be made ‘before the summer.’”

Charles Personnaz believes “we need to move quickly to be able to open this museum in five years,” according to La Croix. He and Truillet “suggested that a permanent and free exhibition space be opened near the cathedral by 2026-2027 to meet the ‘very high expectations of both French and foreign visitors.’”

The two experts reveal their vision of the future museum which “could be structured around a large chronological gallery incorporating three themes. The first would narrate the cathedral's religious, political, and social history, [...] The second would feature artistic creations related to the cathedral: sculptures from the choir screen unearthed during excavations,” for example.

“’We also have many elements from the restorations by Viollet-le-Duc and sculptor Geoffroy-Decheaume, whose workshop could be recreated,’ Personnaz suggested.” Finally, the third theme would be “the ongoing project of the cathedral, from its reconstruction in 1160 to its current restoration,” La Croix reports.

As for the financing it could be assured in part by patrons, according to the estimation of Jonathan Truillet, and through fees or admission donations. The estimation is that 700,000 people will visit per year: “This would represent 5% of the 14 million annual visitors expected at the cathedral after its reopening, 2 million more than before its tragic fire.”