Art History



Degree Name

Master of Arts in Art History (M.A.)

Type of Paper/Work

Qualifying paper


Victoria Young

Second Advisor

William L. Barnes

Third Advisor

Mark Stansbury-O’Donnell


The Notre-Dame Cathedral fire in April of 2019 was a catalyst for architecture and restoration discussion around the world, with heated debate covering every aspect of the damage to the cathedral and how and when restoration should be undertaken. The French restoration team’s recent decision to use two-hundred-year-old oak trees for the rebuilding of the spire further reignited the discussion and is a reminder of how ever pertinent the preservation and restoration debate is that surrounds historic sacred architecture.

Is the Notre-Dame restoration a worthwhile one in the end? And is a historically traditional approach to its architectural restoration superior to a more modern redesigned approach?

This study will highlight the background and uniqueness of Notre-Dame as a sacred space of historic and national importance, the challenges, obstacles, and criticism the restoration team face, how they can draw from the nineteenth-century restoration of Notre-Dame done by Eugène Viollet-le-Duc, and ultimately delve into the reasoning behind the decisions that have been announced so far. Notre-Dame continues to have an immense relevance as one of the definitive sacred spaces in western Europe, it is beloved by the French people as a monument to French history and pride, and the decision to place importance on medieval building methods and materials over modern-day equivalents may indeed have as much to do with practicality as it does

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.