The Restoration of Chateau de Fontainebleaus’ Imperial Theatre

By Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority, Special for  USDR

The second installment of Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority’s contribution to the restoration of the Château de Fontainebleau’s Imperial Theatre has seen the launch of the final phase of restorative works. In recognition of Abu Dhabi’s contribution to the restoration, the theatre was renamed as the Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan  Theatre.

As part of the agreement between the Government of Abu Dhabi and France in 2007, part of which concerned the Louvre Abu Dhabi project, the contribution allows for the restoration of the theatre thanks to the generosity of His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the United Arab Emirates. The first phase of the restoration was completed in April 2014 and saw the rejuvenation of the main auditorium with 25 specialists and 135 craftsmen working on site, reviving the theatre’s original décor. The second phase of renovation will begin in June 2017 with the focus turning to certain machinery, the upper levels of the salons and the podium upon which one of the most important stage sets in France has been preserved. In spring 2019, the public will be able to experience this Second Empire architectural masterpiece in its entirety. The theatre was exquisitely designed by Hector Lefuel for the Imperial family between 1853 and 1856, and was used by Napoléon III on no more than a dozen occasions, before its doors were closed for over a century, thus preserving it in its original  state.

Following these restoration works, the Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan theatre will represent a museographic space dedicated to the performing arts and decorative arts of the Second  Empire.

His Excellency Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak, Chairman, Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority said, “The protection of cultural heritage anywhere is of the upmost importance to ensure that the history of our societies and civilisations is passed onto future generations. It is through our common commitments to this cause that we have been able to make great strides in our cultural cooperation with France. The renovation of the Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan Theatre represents our nation’s dedication to the preservation of this heritage, not just within our own region, but internationally as we strive towards a global community united by  culture.”

A classified UNESCO World Heritage Site, Fontainebleau, which hosts 1530 invaluable artifacts and rare furniture, was home to 34 French monarchs and emperors. There, Napoleon bade farewell to his Old Guard and went into exile in 1814. With modifications of the chateau’s structure, including the cobblestone entrance wide enough for his carriage, Napoleon helped make the chateau the place that visitors experience today. Fontainebleau was the setting of the Second Empire court of his nephew Napoleon III. The chateau is also home to the Ecoles d’Art Americaines, a school of art, architecture, and  music.

SOURCE Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture  Authority

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