Notre Dame fire hits home for Toledo Museum of Art Curator

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TOLEDO (WTVG) - Notre Dame is much more than an iconic cathedral and jewel of Gothic architecture. It houses priceless and irreplaceable marvels of religious, artistic, musical, historical and architectural value.

Some were lost in the fire, but many others were spared. That is a relief to people around the world who watched in horror as the cathedral burned.

Centuries of history and art were contained in the Notre Dame cathedral.France's culture minister says the "most precious treasures" housed there have been saved. He says there's no damage linked to the fire, but there is damage linked to the smoke.
So now comes the task of protecting and restoring the art.

Lawrence Nichols is a Senior Curator at The Toledo Museum of Art.
He's made multiple trips to Notre Dame dating back to the 1960s.
He'll be in Paris again this summer, and says it's hard to think about what he'll see at the cathedral, "Yesterday was shock and disbelief. Today is resignation and even acceptance. There is also a bit of optimism today as we learned that things were not as catastrophic as they could have been."

Nichols says while it may not be the biggest or the oldest cathedral, Notre Dame is among the most important, "It's truly a sacred experience being there."

Like so many others the magnitude of the fire is still sinking in for Nichols, "It's upsetting, it's emotional, and it is catastrophic. One can't minimize this. However, no loss of life is the greatest news of this tragedy."

Here at TMA there are multiple risk management plans in place, "We do all we can to safeguard our collection and anyone who is in the building whether it's staff or visitors at all times. Having said that, catastrophes do happen."

The lessons from the tragedy in Paris will be far reaching. Private Sterling Rahe with the Toledo Fire & Rescue Department says there will eventually be reports made available to departments around the world, "We're going to look at those and see if we can adopt some of the things they did and also see how we might do some things differently if something like this happened in our city."

As you may know, something like this did happen in Toledo The Historic Church of st. Patrick in downtown caught on fire. It was hit by lightning in 1980 The fire took down the steeple and heavily damaged other parts of the church

While St. Pat's was built hundreds of years after Notre Dame, there are similarities, "Very similar construction. There is heavy timber and wide open spaces. Obviously St. Pat's is a much smaller structure than Notre Dame, but it is still the same thought process."

Rahe says the Toledo Fire & Rescue Department has a proactive program when it comes to older buildings in the city. Firefighters go in and survey the structures so that if anything would ever happen, they have a good idea of the lay-out and any areas there would be special concerns for the crews.