NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) — From now until March 19th you can explore one of the most iconic structures in Paris without leaving New Orleans.

In fact, visitors can examine parts of Notre-Dame de Paris never before seen by the public and witness the ongoing restoration as the cathedral recovers from the devastating fire of April 2019.

The free exhibit in the heart of the French Quarter was originally scheduled to wrap up on March 1 but was extended, much to the delight of The Historic New Orleans Collection.

“So we start with the fire and then we come back to the rebirth and the renewal of the Cathedral itself,” Exhibit Coordinator Matt Farah at The Historic New Orleans Collection explains to WGNO’s Stephanie Oswald.

It’s time travel using advanced technology to transport museum-goers, who use tablets called Histo-Pads to visit various nooks and crannies of the beloved site. The exhibit, sponsored by L’Oreal, is the brainchild of the French company Histovery (think “history” plus “discovery”) and uses interactive media in a way rarely seen outside of Disney.

Visitors can witness the Imperial Coronation of Napoleon in 1804, or watch as builders put together the original cathedral by candlelight more than 800 years ago.

“It is breathtaking, both in its scope and the visuals which are obviously the whole point, but it’s the kind of immersive experience that you really can’t have with anything that isn’t as iconic as the cathedral itself,” says Farah.

If you’re not one to embrace modern technology, no worries.

“These things are designed for people who aren’t tech savvy, it’s all just point and tap for 3-D immersion. You can stand at one spot, hold the Histo-Pad up, turn around and you will see the entire rendering of either the Middle Ages, or actual photography from modern-day Paris,” says Farah, adding, “It’s a very specific and very unique installation because none of the material in here is actually ours, including the floors that are in here; the floors are replicas of the cathedral itself.”

Something else to note: you can follow the reconstruction even closer than a Parisian resident, because as the rebuilding continues in Paris, regular software updates are sent to the exhibit and it changes accordingly. Find out more details, as well as what else is on display at The Historic New Orleans Collection by clicking here.

This free exhibit even has a treasure hunt designed for the younger crowd, letting kids construct their own stained-glass window. Plus, something fun for all ages: the Histo-Pads have built in selfie options so you can become the Hunchback of Notre-Dame or a gargoyle!

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