Experience Notre-Dame de Paris in a visual way

Wang Jie
A new exhibition of the Notre-Dame de Paris takes a unique look at the cathedral using a "Histopad." It introduces history and structure, and its current restoration project.
Wang Jie
Experience Notre-Dame de Paris in a visual way

With Victor Hugo's renowned novel "Notre-Dame de Paris," many people around the world have formed an emotional connection with the Gothic cathedral, built in 1163.

"Notre-Dame de Paris: The Augmented Exhibition" is currently underway at the Jiushi Art Gallery at Bund 18. It renders an opportunity for those who are curious about the cathedral to experience it in a virtual way. The exhibition covers key aspects and over a dozen milestones in the cathedral's history, including the dramatic fire in April 2019 and its current restoration procedure.

Produced by the French tech company Histovery in collaboration with the public body responsible for the preservation and restoration of the Notre-Dame de Paris, the exhibition is unique as it requires a "Histopad" for the entire route of the show.

It would be exaggerating to say that the exhibition is fully immersive, as all the information, pictures and moving scenes are on the small pad developed by Histovery.

Experience Notre-Dame de Paris in a visual way

The Histopad is a must for the exhibition.

Visitors scan the "Time Portal," similar to a QR code, in front of a cluster of prints, pictures and three-dimensional models in each section.

Apparently, the big fire on April 15, 2019 is "a scar" for every Parisian.

The pad shows the fire during different hours starting from 7:30pm. Visitors can see the spire collapsing shortly before 8pm, creating vast gaps in the cathedral vaults, with the 30 firefighters inside forced to evacuate quickly. The cathedral was weakened by the loss of the framework and roofing. Its vault was pierced in several places by the falling spire and thousands of liters of water were discharged everywhere to put out the fire.

In fact, this exhibition asks for a careful glance over each "Time Portal" from the visitors. For example, they realize that early in 1840, the Notre-Dame was dangerous. Even though it was a monument, the cathedral had been poorly maintained since the middle of the previous century, mistreated during the French Revolution and forgotten by public opinion that neglected Gothic art. But starting from the 1830s, there was a trend toward safeguarding national heritage, which was fuelled by the immense success of Victor Hugo's "Notre-Dame de Paris."

A project to restore the cathedral was launched in 1842, and the competition was won by renowned architect Jean-Baptiste Lassus, in association with young and talented Eugene Viollet-le-Duc, only 28 years old at the time.

Unfortunately, Notre-Dame went through another hellish night on April 15, 2019. The section on restoration would unveil some details on how to restore the cathedral, especially the new frame which will be made of 2,000 solid oak trees, representing only 0.2 percent of the annual oak harvest in France, 1,000 for the spire, its adjacent bays and the transept, and 1,000 for the great roof.

Scanning the last "Time Portal," visitors get a 360-degree view of the current restoration of the framework inside the cathedral, as if at the real venue itself.

Experience Notre-Dame de Paris in a visual way

Exhibition info:

Date: Through January 2 (closed on Mondays), Tuesdays-Thursdays, Sundays, 10am-6pm; Fridays-Saturdays, 10am-9pm

Admission: Free (no entry half an hour before closure)

Venue: Bund 18 Jiushi Art Gallery

Address: 18 Zhongshan Rd E1


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