Now you can adopt one of Notre Dame's grotesque stone creatures to help fund rebuilding
Published Monday, April 19, 2021 2:18PM EDT
A conservation group is offering members of the public the chance to donate to restore specific artifacts at the Notre-Dame cathedral in Paris, which was partially destroyed by fire in 2019. The stone "grotesques" sit in the upper gallery spanning the cathedral's two towers. (Edwin Remsberg/VWPics/AP via CNN)
A conservation group is offering members of the public the chance to donate to restore specific artifacts at the Notre Dame cathedral in Paris, which was partially destroyed by fire in 2019.
Friends of Notre Dame de Paris is running a crowdfunding campaign designed to boost the rebuilding project, and supporters can choose what their money is used for -- from saints to alarming stone "grotesques."
According to the organization's website, statues of various saints, including Mark, Paul and Jude, have already reached their funding goals, while a painting of "The Centurion Cornelius at St. Peter's Feet" is more than halfway there.
But Joan of Arc and a number of grotesques -- stone statues that sit on the upper gallery between the cathedral's two towers -- still have some way to go.
The grotesques -- which are all individually named -- were designed in the 19th century by the architect Eugène Viollet-le-Duc, according to the campaign, and "recreate the fantastic universe of the Middle Ages."
The decorative figures are not to be confused with gargoyles, which serve to drain rainwater, the group notes.
Friends of Notre Dame de Paris was set up in 2017, but its campaign took on a much greater significance in the wake of the April 2019 fire, which devastated large parts of the church, including its roof and spire.
The French government announced an international competition to reimagine the building, which attracted some striking contemporary ideas.
One proposal, from Belgian architect Vincent Callebaut's firm, was a futuristic glass design complete with solar power and an urban farm for vulnerable and homeless Parisians.
However, in July 2020 the French government announced that the cathedral would be rebuilt exactly as it was prior to the fire.
Fundraising efforts for the rebuild were initially led by France's wealthiest families, who pledged a combined €500 million ($599 million) shortly after the fire.
Now, individuals can make smaller donations via the Friends of Notre Dame de Paris campaign, and know exactly what their money is being used for.
French President Emmanuel Macron wants the cathedral to reopen by 2024, when Paris will host the summer Olympics. However, restoration experts believe it could take more like 10-15 years to restore Notre Dame to its former glory.