The Arts at AUP

Culture is a very important part of Parisian life and is naturally an integral part of the AUP experience. The University’s rich history of artistic endeavors have been a point of increased interest in recent years, leading to the creation of new spaces offering a multitude of opportunities to experience culture in new ways. 

The newly renovated Montessuy Center for the arts is the hub of artistic life on campus, bringing students and faculty together through creative pursuits in a state-of-the-art facility – complete with a new gallery and AUP’s first theater.

Art Galleries on Campus

AUP’s campus spotlights our creative community of students, alumni and faculty by presenting their works in our galleries like the Combes Fine Arts Gallery, thanks to the curation by the Student Gallery Club. Our cultural mission is also to provide opportunities for the exploration of cultural diversity through the exhibition of works by professional artists from different backgrounds and cultures. The various exhibitions updated throughout the year are all open to the AUP community and the public. The campus galleries host regular vernissages that are open to all students as well as to invited guests, offering opportunities to socialize and build community.

Whether students are seeking to discover the arts on campus or to pursue their own artistic passion, the Monttessuy Center for the Arts offers theater seating 70+ for visual and performing arts and its numerous sculpture and fine arts studios. Student clubs put on theatrical and musical shows multiple times a year.

A mixed media display as part of the Winter 2023 AUP Film Festival.

AUP Film Festival mixed media

Students perform as part of the Vivre Spring Arts Festival, 2022.

Students perform

Fans of music can also enjoy concerts on campus, like thi performance with AUP's sharpsichord.

Harpsichord concert

A lithographic poster exhibition in the Combes Gallery, 2023.

WWI exhibition

Students work in one of the new art studios at Monttessuy.


Poster from aluma Carolina Cavalli's debut film Amanda

Read our interview with Carolina Cavalli in the AUP Magazine.

An Alumna's Advice for Aspiring Filmmakers

Film at AUP

Film at AUP aims to highlight the importance of film studies' position in AUP's liberal arts curriculum. Unlike some more traditional film programs, the department works to show how moving image shapes and reflects our contemporary world. Through courses students use film as a lens to study history, culture, politics, theory and aesthetics while hands-on screenwriting and filmmaking classes offer the chance to put understanding into action. 

Professors at AUP regularly invite experts into the classroom to enhance the learning experience by offering students new points of view from professionals working in international careers and Film is no exception. Campus plays host to a series of masterclasses, like French–Venezuelan filmmaker Alexis Gambis, whose science-inspired cinema also explores themes of migration, identity and belonging, or alumni like award-winning Carolina Cavalli '13.

Olivia de Havilland memorabilia in Monttessuy

When the library moved into its new home in the Quai d’Orsay Learning Commons, the University repurposed 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 five years prior to the renovation. 

Our generous donors helped make the study of art history and fine arts a part of each student’s AUP education.

Notable Friends of the Arts at AUP

  • 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, she was awarded an honorary degree in recognition of her film career and long loyalty to the University. She regularly welcomed AUP friends to her home in Paris for advice, counsel and best of all, camaraderie extraordinaire. In 2015, she was recognized yet again when she was awarded the AUP Presidential Medal of Distinguished Achievement. In short, Olivia was part of the very fabric of AUP from our earliest years to the end of her life. The theater in the Monttessuy Center for the Arts is therefore named in loving memory of this extraordinary champion of the University.


  • Classes of the 90s

    Graduates of the 90s joined Roxanne Collins Vanderbilt ’95 and Monica Heslington ’97, who led a decade-long challenge to fund a classroom in the center, in donating to the Monttessuy campaign. Read Roxanne’s letter of support here.


  • Francesca Weinmann

    Alumni who knew the late Professor of Art History Francesca Weinmann or took a class with her made donations in her honor. Participating donors are recognized for their contributions on a plaque in the Monttessuy Center for the Arts.