PARIS (AP) – Pipe by pipe, the organ that once rang through Notre Dame Cathedral will be disarmed after last year’s devastating fire.
The mammoth task of dismantling, cleaning and reassembling France’s largest musical instrument began on Monday and is expected to last nearly four years. It will take six months just to tune the organ, the music of which is not expected to play again at the Parisian medieval monument until 2024, according to the state agency that oversees the restoration of Notre Dame.
Surprisingly, the 8,000-pipe organ survived the April 2019 fire that consumed the cathedral’s roof and knocked down its capital. But the flames covered the instrument with toxic lead dust that now needs to be carefully removed.
And although the organ was not burned, it was damaged during a record heat wave last summer and has been affected by other temperature variations since the 12th-century cathedral lost its roof, the agency said.
Experts began removing the keys from the organ on Monday and will then remove its tubes in a disassembly process that will last until the end of this year. The pieces will be placed in special containers inside the huge cathedral, where cleaning and restoration will take place.
The agency’s chief official said the organ, which dates back to 1733, will be played again on April 16, 2024, on the fifth anniversary of the fire.
President Emmanuel Macron hopes the cathedral can reopen in time for the 2024 Olympics in Paris. But it has taken more than a year to clean up the dangerous lead residue, as well as scaffolding laid before the fire for a previous renovation effort, and the rebuilding of Notre Dame has yet to begin.