The American University of Paris is thrilled to announce the next exciting stage in its campus redevelopment – the Monttessuy Center for the Arts. As the library has moved into its new home in the recently completed Quai d’Orsay Learning Commons, the University is repurposing 9, rue du 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.


Art history was one of the first majors at the American College in Paris (ACP), and thus the development of both the department and its stellar faculty is entwined with the history of the early college. Over the years, faculty passions for formalist, historicist, feminist and comparative interpretations of ancient to contemporary Western art – with a few notable inclusions of American and Middle Eastern and Islamic art – have prepared AUP students for distinguished careers.

Two aspects of AUP’s art history curriculum were then, as now, central to the way our students experienced art. The first was the experience of standing in front of the works or the monuments themselves in situ; the second was to take part in study trips throughout Europe and well beyond with art history and fine arts faculty members legendary for their erudition, enthusiasm and energy.


For many years, the Monttessuy building served as the university library, before the collection was moved to the Quai d’Orsay Learning Commons in 2019. Here’s what the library looked like before the renovation.


The renovation of the Monttessuy Center for the Arts 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 AUP sold the building in 2012, during which time the department’s faculty relinquished the projectors in favor of PowerPoint and other modern technologies. For a few years, the department, now incorporating fine arts, wandered in the wilderness of AUP’s campus. 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 together again, launching the resurgence of student interest in both programs and making the creation of a dedicated facility for the arts essential.


We will be publishing before and after pictures when construction is complete. In the meantime, please enjoy these photos of the Monttessuy Center for the Arts under construction and during our soft opening.