The Monttessuy Center for the Arts

A Renaissance for the Arts at AUP

The American University of Paris is thrilled to announce the next exciting stage in our campus redevelopment plan: the Monttessuy Center for the Arts. As the library has moved into its new home in the Quai d’Orsay Learning Commons, the University will repurpose its former location on the rue de Monttessuy as a hub for artistic life on campus, bringing students and faculty together through creative pursuits in a state-of-the-art teaching facility – complete with AUP’s first theater.

The launch of a fine arts major in 2014–15, plus renewed student interest in studying art history in Paris, made for rapid growth of these majors – a collective 270% increase over the past five years.

The time has come to help AUP – ever ascending – to secure the space and services that will give wings to its Department of Art History and Fine Arts, creating dedicated space for the arts on its campus and, in the process, its first-ever purpose-built [theater].

Celeste M. Schenck President

As art history once again takes center stage in AUP’s modern curriculum, and fine arts fills an important place in our students’ liberal arts trajectory, faculty need new, better and expanded studio spaces, storage space for materials and office space in which to receive students and conduct their research. The technology for teaching art history has evolved significantly; students and faculty are both pressing for better-equipped classrooms.

The moment has come to open a space dedicated to these disciplines at AUP, complete with wall space for exhibiting student art, two major art studios with high ceilings and natural light, and a 70-seat theater to be named for AUP parent and former trustee Olivia de Havilland.


The Department of Art History and Fine Arts Comes Home

We are deeply aware that this move is a homecoming for the Department of Art History and Fine Arts. In the late ’70s, art history classes took place in two classrooms in Monttessuy, where high ceilings could accommodate images from the slide projectors of the day. Sidestepping a move to the Grenelle basement, the department had its next home – along with the infamous top-floor slide room – in Bosquet from 1992 until we sold the building in 2012, during which time the department’s faculty relinquished the projectors in favor of PowerPoint and other modern technologies.

I had the opportunity to tour new and renovated buildings on AUP’s campus during the ’90s alumni reunion in May 2018. Seeing what a difference these well-equipped facilities make to student life reaffirmed for me the importance of supporting such projects.

Roxanne Collins Vanderbilt ’95

The creation of the Pierre and Christina de Labouchere ’86 Art Studio during the 2014 renovation of the Combes Student Life Center, along with the grouping of art history faculty offices and classrooms in that building, brought the arts at AUP back under one roof again, launching the resurgence of student interest in both programs and making the creation of a dedicated facility for the arts essential.


Raising the Roof on The Monttessuy Center for the Arts

An education in the arts, especially in a global institution, teaches the most universal of languages in a world of differences. Will you help make the study of art history and fine arts a part of each student’s AUP education? Help us achieve this next milestone in the full renovation of the AUP campus. We invite you to join this special moment in AUP history by considering a gift to the Monttessuy Center for the Arts.


A Theater Honoring Olivia de Havilland

Though the world knows Olivia de Havilland for her exceptional career as an actress, she was also an exceptional friend of The American University of Paris.  The mother of an AUP graduate, Benjamin, she was the first woman to serve as a trustee of the University.  Olivia encouraged her fellow trustees in the 1960s to support students in a historical moment for AUP and the world.  In 1994, in recognition of her film career and long loyalty to the University, she was awarded an honorary degree.  She had close friendships with many AUP trustees and members of the American community in France, as well as a number of French Parisians.  She regularly welcomed AUP friends to her home in Paris for advice, counsel and best of all, camaraderie extraordinaire.  In 2015, she was further recognized with the AUP Presidential Medal of Distinguished Achievement.  In short, Olivia was part of the very fabric of AUP from our earliest years until the end of her life and so we will name the Theater in Monttessuy in loving memory of this extraordinary champion of the University.


Classes of the 90s

If you’re a 90s graduate, we hope you will consider joining Roxanne Collins Vanderbilt ’95 and Monica Heslington ’97 who are leading a decade challenge to fund a classroom in the center. Click here to read Roxanne’s letter of support for the campaign.


Francesca Weinmann

In honor of the late Professor of Art History Francesca Weinmann, alumni who knew her or took a class with Professor Weinmann are invited to make a donation in her honor. Participating donors will be recognized for their contributions, possibly in the form of a plaque in the Monttessuy Center for the Arts. 


A Center for Your Children

As the parent of a current AUP student, you know how vital the arts are in expanding the horizons of the next generation and what an exceptional gift it is to explore these subjects in a city renowned for its rich artistic and architectural history. We need your help in making this next step forward a reality for current and future generations of global explorers. Alongside gifts, there are also many naming opportunities in the new center. Why not consider letting us name one of our new spaces in honor of someone you cherish? Read President Celeste Schenck’s message to parents here.