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Work starts on restoration of Notre Dame Cathedral's grand organ

Work starts on restoration of Notre Dame Cathedral's grand organ
The Cathedral of Notre Dame's grand organ is pictured on July 17, 2019, during preliminary work three months after a major fire damaged the 850-year-old church. Work on dismantling the organ began Monday. File photo by Stephane de Sakutin/EPA-EFE

Aug. 3 (UPI) -- Restoration work on the 250-year-old grand organ at the fire-damaged Cathedral of Notre Dame began Monday in Paris with hopes of having it ready in time for the church's planned reopening in four years.

The iconic organ escaped major damage during a April 15, 2019, fire that destroyed Notre Dame's spire and roof, but it was covered in lead dust from the roof's collapse.

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The largest musical instrument in France also was subjected to heat damage last summer when it was open to the elements, church officials said.

The work will last for four years and is to be completed in time for a 2024 reopening promised by French President Emmanuel Macron.

The effort is starting with the removal of the organ's five keyboards, to be followed by the dismantling and cleaning of its 8,000 pipes and other wooden and metal pieces, which will be stored in airtight containers.

Once it is repaired an reinstalled, it will take an additional six months to tune up.

The organ was completed in 1867, around the same time as the spire that collapsed in the fire.

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This month, Macron backed a plan to rebuild the spire exactly as it was after earlier, calling for a contemporary design for the reconstruction of the 850-year-old cathedral.

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