UA Art Historian Visits Notre Dame’s New Spire After Contributing to Its Renovation

Associate Professor Dr. Jennifer Feltman flew to Paris in April to participate in the Colloquium of the Chantier scientifique de Notre-Dame and presented her research poster, “Modélisation de la polychromie du portail central.” As a member of Chantier scientifique de Notre Dame, the research group authorized by the French Ministry of Culture – CNRS to study the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris as it is being restored, Feltman met with her research team and viewed the new restorations to the cathedral, including its newly reconstructed spire.

Before flying to Paris, Feltman gave an interview in Orlando at the University of Central Florida’s Public Broadcasting station for the program Global Perspectives, hosted by David Dumke.

Jennifer Feltman interviewed by WUCF’s Global Perspectives cohost David Dumke in spring 2024.

In a fascinating conversation, Dr. Feltman, who has studied the Cathedral of Notre Dame since she was an undergrad, described her role in rebuilding the iconic site, beginning with how she felt when she visited Paris after the devastating fire in 2019.

“It was..a sad time, in part because we were also living through COVID. The Arc de Triomphe is wrapped, and there’s this kind of somber feeling in Paris. There aren’t many tourists because people aren’t traveling. Then I come up out of the metro station at the Île de la Cité. I look up at the skyline and to see the cathedral without the spire was really gut-wrenching. I think that was the first moment that I truly…palpably felt sadness.”

Feltman told listeners what it was like to research in Paris and then to experience seeing the new spire of Notre Dame unveiled after only five years. When she met with research colleagues this April, she described the shared feeling of accomplishment they felt on viewing the result of the work contributed by so many experts to bring the cathedral back to life.

“I met people who were doing the restoration and every single person was filled with a sense of pride and mission. And I really think that it’s the kind of palpable sense of ‘we are rebuilding Notre Dame’…the people who were involved with the project, the craftspeople on the site. That sense is in part what has led us to be able to finish it in five years.”

Newly reconstructed spire of Notre-Dame de Paris, April 21, 2024. Photo courtesy Dr. Jennifer Feltman.

Listen to Dr. Feltman’s interview here.

To learn more about The University of Alabama’s art history and studio art programs, visit our Degree Programs page.