Renovation of two of Notre-Dame Cathedral’s chapels, the Saint Ferdinand and Notre-Dame de Guadalupe chapels, is now complete. These chapels served as test worksites for the methods that will be used to clean and restore the rest of the cathedral.
Fortunately, the twenty-four chapels along the nave and choir were not damaged during the 2019 fire, but they are now covered under a layer of lead dust and require cleaning. The work on the Saint Ferdinand and Notre-Dame de Guadalupe chapels began in September 2020 and finished earlier this year. These two test worksites are important because they help determine the protocols for cleaning the paintings, stonework, and stained-glass windows.
The process of cleaning the chapels was incredibly meticulous. Restorers used a laser to clean the seals between stones; then they set a gel to absorb dirt, removing it with a paper towel. This process is the safest to reveal the original colors and materials of the chapels. The results of the restoration work are extremely encouraging and are a good starting point to renovate the Cathedral’s remaining 22 chapels. This work will likely begin after the rebuilding of the rib vaults, roof, and spire is complete.
Removing decades worth of dirt and the lead soot from the fire revealed the beautiful and vibrant interior décor of the chapels. The Saint Ferdinand Chapel is adorned with painted plaster and wonderful polychrome, while the Notre-Dame de Guadalupe Chapel is bejeweled with amazing exposed stones and fleur-de-lys painted on the ribs of the vaults.