PARIS – Restorers began working on Notre Dame’s organ on Monday, 15 months after the fire ripped through the building destroying its roof and spire.
The restoration of France’s largest instrument, built in the 18th century from 1733, will take more than three years.
The cathedral’s organ that sits under the west rose window behind the main facade survived the flames but suffered from high temperatures and lead contamination requiring an in-depth restoration.
The public body that directs the works at the Gothic cathedral reported on Monday they would begin to dismantle the keyboards, pedalboard and the 109 stops that manage the airflow to the 8,000 pipes that make up the organ.
A 30-meter scaffold that was installed in July will be used to access the pipes, some of which are up to 10 meters high.
The dismantling process will take workers until late 2020.
Once the instrument has been disassembled, it will need a deep clean and restoration that will be carried out between 2021-2024.
President Emmanuel Macron has said the goal is to reopen the iconic temple on April 16, 2024.
General Jean-Louis Georgelin, at the head of the body responsible for the works, said in a statement that to fine-tune and harmonize the organ alone will take six months.
“Unlike the organ of the Nantes cathedral, which burned in the fire of July 18, ours is intact but dirty,” said the rector of the cathedral, Patrick Chauvet, in statements to the Le Parisien newspaper.
The dismantled organ will be kept in four containers waiting for specialists to be appointed to clean, restore and reassemble it.
The choir organ, which was profoundly damaged by the fire, will also be removed for cleaning and some of its 2,000 tubes may be used for the reconstruction of the grand organ.