January 01, 2020

Cultural Heritage: The Silent Victim of Disasters

Kelsea Raether

The April 2019 fire that ravaged the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France, prompted worldwide reactions of shock and grief. The Notre Dame Cathedral is an iconic structure and important piece of cultural heritage that makes up the historic fabric of Paris, drawing millions of tourists from all over the world to visit. The fire sparked an international interest in what happens to cultural heritage after a disaster. I recall sitting at my desk watching live media footage of the firefighters struggling to contain the blaze that threatened to destroy the centuries-old structure. Like me, much of the world watched their fight to save the cathedral. There was an instantaneous outpouring of support to finance rebuilding efforts as media reported the loss of the cathedral’s well-known gothic arches, beams, and spire. Donations poured in to support recovery efforts, and media attention increased regarding the importance of protecting culture heritage.

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