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AUP Community Members Discover the Monttessuy Center for the Arts


Olivia de Havilland Theater Hosts First Live Performance

On Thursday, November 18, 2021, the Monttessuy Center for the Arts opened its doors to the AUP community for a private launch event ahead of the building’s scheduled opening in January 2022. This “soft launch” of the renovated Monttessuy building invited staff, faculty and students to discover the new home of AUP’s Department of Art History and Fine Arts. The remodeled space includes two classrooms, two art studios, a lithography lab, faculty offices and the University’s first-ever auditorium, the Olivia de Havilland Theater.

Guests were first invited to take part in a scavenger hunt across the space in order to learn more about the building and the generous donors who made the renovations possible. AUP community members honored through named spaces in the building include trustees and friends of the University, as well as the Classes of the 1990s and a group of AUP parents, whose collective donation supported the renovation of two classrooms. Many other donors supported this renovation effort throughout the year, enabling the space to become a transformative center for the arts.

After discovering the building, attendees were invited to take their seats in the Olivia de Havilland Theatre for the first live performance to take place in the auditorium – a music and dance showcase by recently-founded student club Vivre Performance Arts. President Celeste M. Schenck introduced the show by thanking the AUP community for supporting the renovations and recounting the building’s history. In the late 1970s, art history classes took place in Monttessuy, where high ceilings provided enough room for the slide projectors of the era. More recently, the AUP Library was housed in Monttessuy, before moving to the Quai d’Orsay Learning Commons in 2019.

Oscar-winning actress Olivia de Havilland was an exceptional friend of The American University of Paris, the mother of an AUP graduate, and the University’s first female trustee. In 1994, in recognition of her film career and lifelong support of the University, AUP bestowed on her an honorary degree. In 2015, she was further recognized with AUP’s Presidential Medal of Distinguished Achievement. Olivia was part of the fabric of AUP from its earliest years until her death in 2020. The University is especially grateful to Gisele Galante, Olivia’s daughter, for her gracious generosity in support of the Monttessuy Center for the Arts, in honor of her enduring relationship with her mother.

Did you miss the event? Take a look at our highlights video below.