An Enduring Icon

L.A.'s Getty Museum will dedicate an entire exhibition to Notre-Dame

Shown above: Chevet de Notre-Dame-de-Paris, vue prise du Quai de La Tournelle, an 1860s photograph by Charles Soulier (Courtesy The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles)

Coming soon to the J. Paul Getty Museum is a single-gallery exhibition dedicated to the legacy of the most famous piece of medieval architecture in the world. An Enduring Icon: Notre-Dame Cathedral will be on view starting July 23rd in Los Angeles as a tribute to the French landmark and its global staying power despite the massive fire that ravished its iconic roof. 

Organized by Anne-Lis Desmas, senior curator of the Sculpture and Decorative Arts department, the showcase will feature paintings, photographs, engravings, and rare books that highlight the history of the 850-year-old cathedral. “The artworks on view in this special installation,” said Desmas in a statement, “elucidate the importance of this ‘majestic and sublime edifice… this aged queen of our cathedrals,’ as (Victor) Hugo called it, from its contribution in the Middle Ages to its restoration in the 1800s.”

Getty Museum director Timothy Potts said that the recent fire sparked a newfound global appreciation for the architecture itself, which is why the institution is moving to put this collection on display now. “We thought it appropriate at this moment to illuminate the artistic and cultural impact that Notre-Dame has played in European history, drawing on the rich holding of the Museum and the Getty Research Institute.”


The Getty Museum, established in 1974, has long been an authoritative research and conservation institution, as well as an education center on Grecian, Roman, and Etrurian art. In 2006, the museum’s sister site, the Getty Villa, opened in Malibu to house and showcase some of the Getty’s 44,000-piece collection, including ancient antiquities, drawings, sculpture, and decorative arts. The museum also boasts a large stock of global photography dating back from the invention of the camera through contemporary times, some of which will be on display in An Enduring Icon through October 20th. 

Related Stories