Notre Dame du Paris: Intangible qualities and emotional significance. E.C.C.O.s Statement (II)

Our heritage locates us in the world and speaks to quality of life issues, it does require investment, maintenance and upkeep, yet, the returns are manifold and yield value over and above any initial financial expenditure. E.C.C.O. are in constant dialogue about the value of cultural heritage, the need for its proper care and protection. By taking care of the material fabric of cultural heritage we are protecting its intangible qualities and emotional significance. The real value of heritage in human terms is felt acutely and viscerally when we witness the damage and loss just experienced over the last 24 hours to Notre Dame. The damage to the fabric of the building is one issue and yes, perhaps Notre Dame can be reconstructed and rebuilt, but it is the potency of an 800 year continuum of history represented by this very same fabric; its stones, timbers and contents that is causing all of us to feel real grief at its loss. It is a cultural trauma for France and rest of the world as we lose a building that has seen the Renaissance, the Reformation, Revolutions and two horrendous world wars. Our knowledge of Notre Dame as an authentic witness to this history, being part and parcel of it, informs the ethics, principles and practices of conservation-restoration as it seeks to preserve the cultural agency and potency of heritage in the processes of its care. It is an approach that will be necessary to preserving what can be salvaged from the fire and critical to reclaiming Notre Dame for the future.

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