Contemporary stained glass windows at Notre-Dame: it’s possible, in the north tower

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French President Emmanuel Macron and Mgr Ulrich, Archbishop of Paris, want to leave their mark on Notre-Dame cathedral by commissioning contemporary stained glass windows. While the idea of replacing the stained glass windows designed by Viollet-le-Duc in the nave chapels is absolutely to be rejected (see this article and our petition on this subject), we would like to propose a solution that would undoubtedly be acceptable to heritage conservationists and that would enable this matter to be resolved in a positive way.
Contrary to what some people would have us believe, heritage defenders are not systematically opposed to contemporary art, and not even to contemporary art in historic monuments when it is not trying to impose itself like a cuckoo bird. There are many examples of recent stained glass windows being inserted into older buildings, sometimes to great effect.

View of a room in the north tower with two windows without stained glass on the left, which would be perfect for a contemporary commission.
Photo taken from an online video on the removal of the eight bells
See the image in its page

It was a reader of La Tribune de l’Art who suggested a perfect solution in the comments to a previous article. Why not choose the cathedral’s north tower as the location for a contemporary commission for new stained glass windows? As you can see from some of the videos, this tower has bays with no stained glass, only white windows. Installing stained glass windows there would not detract from the harmony intended by Viollet-le-Duc and would enrich the cathedral, which would also be accessible to visitors, who would once again have access to a site normally used by the Centre des Monuments Nationaux.

It would also have a magnificent symbolic role: it was in the north tower, when they fought the fire that threatened to bring down the bells and, in turn, the cathedral, that the firefighters risked their lives to save the monument.
Paying tribute to the firemen, bringing new stained-glass windows to Notre-Dame without vandalising Viollet-le-Duc’s work, giving future visitors more to see: this common-sense solution could suit everyone. Let’s hope that the President of the Republic hears us.

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