Notre-Dame. Catastrophe. Condolences. Questions.

(Opinion Article)

 On April 16, 2019, the grim grief in the heart of Paris stirred up the whole world community. The enormous fire engorged the scaffolding, the spire and the roof of Notre Dame, the 850-year-old Gothic cathedral, the most visited touristic landmark of the world, with almost 13 million people attending it each year.  

Millions of people from all around the world have already offered their condolences on this, as President Emmanuel Macron called it, ‘terrible tragedy.’ Thousands of Ukrainians, full of despair and desolation, are joining them in different mass media outlets, offering their support and financial resources. Even, while being in Kyiv, it is difficult to perceive the whole depth of the immeasurable loss of this ‘invaluable heritage’, according to the words of French scholar Camille Pascal, ‘marked by the bells of Notre Dame.’ Hundreds of priceless pictures, saint sculptures, and other amazing artworks were ruined by the forks of ruthless flame.  

At the same time, while thinking globally and acting locally, as American journalists say, we could not but notice one moment, which looks like a sort of consistent regularity.   On July 15, 2004, a huge 30-meter-fire flared up in the center of Madrid, not far from the famous Spanish Prado Museo.  The transformer booth at the nearest gas station was set on fire and exploded completely unexpectedly. The smoke was seen at a distance of 30 kilometers from it. Fortunately, the Spanish firefighters managed to curb the fire on time. One of the best art collections of the world was saved thanks to their extreme courage and high professionalism.

The destiny of the National Museum of Brazil, located in Rio de Janeiro, was less fortunate. On September 2, 2018, the gigantic flame wave demolished almost all showpieces of this largest Latin American Art Museum. Eighteen million art exhibits from the total twenty were completely burned beyond renovation. This art tragedy caused shock in the hearts of millions of people too. 

The list of tragic events connected with the best world museums is not complete. We would not mention the unexpected fire in Cairo Museum on May I, 2018. We would not speak about the massive flames ravaging in other art museums of the world. 

We`ll focus the attention just only on the key idea – the world officials, responsible for art museums and their security, did not draw any lessons from all these disastrous developments.  Is it a sort of shocking negligence or the activity of some criminal group? In all these cases, including the most dramatic Notre-Dame tragedy, the cause of the fire was not identified.

In any case, while expressing our sincere condolences to the whole French people in general, and President of France Emmanuel Macron in particular, we think that the thorough investigation should be conducted and all details connected with the wooden scaffolding ignition should be scrupulously searched.  Notre-Dame, the symbol of France is worthy of it. The whole France is worthy of it. Le monde entire l`attend.         

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