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National Building Museum Announces Notre-Dame de Paris Exhibition



On Display from April 15 to September 26, 2022

Museum’s First Augmented Reality Exhibition Opens on 3rd Anniversary of the 2019 Cathedral Fire and Transports Visitors through the Structure’s 850-Year History

On April 15, the National Building Museum will bring French heritage back to life with a major new exhibition, Notre-Dame de Paris: The Augmented Exhibition, a 360-degree augmented reality immersion into the 850-year history of the cathedral and its ongoing restoration. The innovative installation is designed and produced by Histovery, a French start-up, in collaboration with the Public Institution in charge of the conservation and restoration of Notre-Dame de Paris. L’Oréal is the exclusive sponsor of the exhibit.   

The exhibition’s North American debut at the Museum takes place on the third anniversary of the 2019 fire that ravaged this UNESCO World Heritage site and runs through Monday, September 26, 2022. An inaugural exhibition launches on April 7, 2022 in Paris, France at the Collège des Bernadins. This visually stunning experience is the first interactive technology exhibition on display at the National Building Museum. 

To navigate the exhibition, each visitor will use a HistoPad™, an augmented reality touch-screen tablet developed by Histovery. The hand-held device creates immersive and interactive reconstructions, visually transporting visitors back in time. They can choose their own experience to explore the cathedral being built in the Middle Ages, witness the coronation of Emperor Napoleon I, see the iconic Viollet-le-Duc spire being erected, or be guided through the complex operation designed to safeguard the structure since the fire, prior to the start of the restoration.  The innovative and intuitive Histopad experience is designed to appeal to visitors of all ages, regardless of their comfort level with technology.  Visitors can choose between eleven language options and a self-guided children’s virtual treasure hunt encourages exploration of the cathedral’s history and identification of items secretly embedded within the augmented reality screens. 

The exhibition is offered in an immersive physical setting that is visually transporting. Vinyl replicas of the cathedral’s flooring, stained-glass transfers on the Museum’s historic windows, audio of Notre Dame’s organs and tolling bells, as well as a projection of the cathedral’s famed rose window, that miraculously survived the fire, complete the multi-sensory experience.

Large photo panels and 3-D models of the cathedral and its decorative details — including a full-size chimera and statue — serve as visual cues and “portals” for the Histopad’s immersive explorations into this 12th-century cultural and architectural masterpiece. Interactive reconstructions show how builders and craftspeople laid the first stones in the 1160s, constructed the Gothic Choir in 1180, the arrival of the Holy Crown carried by Saint Louis in 1241, coronation of Emperor Napoleon I in 1804, and illustrate the building’s ornate evolution with the addition of the towering spire in 1859. Visitors can scroll through a timeline of the cathedral’s construction history and select options on each screen for more detail. They will learn about the cathedral’s complex architectural structure and construction techniques — including the remarkable design and engineering of the flying buttresses, which left very little margin for error. 


On April 15, 2019, the world watched as a fire ravaged Notre-Dame, tearing through the 12th-century cathedral, destroying two-thirds of its roof and collapsing its world-famous spire. The exhibition revisits this tragic day and provides an up-close look at the brave Paris Fire Brigade who battled the blaze for hours working to preserve as much of the building and its treasures as possible.  

Current restoration of the building is a major focus of the exhibition as the HistoPad technology allows visitors to see workers in action reconstructing the elaborate architecture and rebuilding this sacred cathedral including the stabilization required after the fire ended. The experience provides insight into how the restoration team is using historical and scientific evidence to inform the ongoing work to repair the cathedral. 

“The National Building Museum is the perfect venue for this exhibition to debut in the US,” stated Bruno de Sa Moreira, Co-founder and CEO of Histovery. “The Museum was established to preserve and celebrate the building arts and its mission is to inspire curiosity about the world we design and build.  That focus, and its commitment to prioritize the role of innovation in their programming, is in total alignment with our goals.”   

“We are thrilled to bring this premier exhibition to the United States, and believe it provides a new way to experience one of the world’s most iconic buildings.” said Aileen Fuchs, the National Building Museum’s President and Executive Director. “Visitors will experience first-hand how technology can contribute to our understanding of buildings. The unique and immersive virtual nature of the exhibition provides a window into this World Heritage site.”  


About Histovery 

Histovery invents Augmented Visit and revolutionizes cultural visit experiences with the HistoPad. The touchscreen tablet uses augmented reality to travel through time and offer immersive experiences reconstructing the history of places and collections in museums, historic monuments and exhibitions. 

The company provides a full Augmented Tour service, including content creation, scientific validation, IT development, equipment installation and maintenance, statistical analysis of behavioral data, and regular updates.  HistoPad enables sites to grow visitor numbers by attracting new audiences and winning their loyalty. 

Created in 2013, the multi-international award winning HistoPad is currently deployed in fifteen museums and monuments in France, including the Château de Chambord, the Palais des Papes in Avignon and the Conciergerie in Paris, as well as two sites in Germany, and used by more than two million visitors a year. 


About the Public Institution

On April 15, 2019, the violent fire that partially ravaged Notre-Dame de Paris triggered strong emotions across the world with an unprecedented surge of generosity and solidarity. Then a collective adventure took shape, like the builders of cathedrals, and an unprecedented building site was put in place under the direction of the public establishment responsible for the preservation and restoration of Notre-Dame Cathedral. Created on December 1, 2019 and under the guardianship of the Ministry of Culture, it ensures the conduct, coordination and performance of studies and operations leading to the preservation and restoration of the cathedral. It also has a mission to promote the building site, trades and expertise contributing to this, particularly through the implementation of cultural and educational programs in France and internationally. 


About L’Oréal 

L’Oréal has devoted itself to beauty for over 100 years. With its unique international portfolio of 35 diverse and complementary brands, the Group generated sales amounting to 27.99 billion euros in 2020 and employs 85,400 people worldwide. As the world’s leading beauty company, L’Oréal is present across all distribution networks: mass market, department stores, pharmacies and drugstores, hair salons, travel retail, branded retail and e-commerce. 

Research and innovation, and a dedicated research team of 4,000 people, are at the core of L’Oréal’s strategy, working to meet beauty aspirations all over the world. L’Oréal sets out ambitious sustainable development goals across the Group for 2030 and aims to empower its ecosystem for a more inclusive and sustainable society. 

L’Oréal is a donor to the reconstruction of Notre-Dame de Paris and the exclusive sponsor of the exhibition.                                      


MUSEUM HOURS – Friday – Monday, 11 am – 4 pm. The exhibition is located on the second floor. After June 1 – Thursday – Monday, 11 am – 4 pm.

In partnership with

National Building Museum

The National Building Museum inspires curiosity about the world we design and build. We believe that understanding the impact of architecture, engineering, landscape architecture, construction, planning, and design is important for everyone. Through exhibitions, educational programs, and special events, we welcome visitors of all ages to experience stories about the built world and its power to shape our lives, our communities, and our futures. Public inquiries: 202.272.2448,, or visit Connect with us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter

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