The final stage of the United Arab Emirates (UAE)-funded renovation of the 19th-century imperial theatre at the Château de Fontainebleau—a Unesco World Heritage site near Paris—begins in June. Designed in 1857 for Napoleon III, the theatre reopened in 2014 after the first phase, which cost €5m and saw 25 specialists and 135 craftsmen revive the original décor of the main auditorium. The final phase focuses on restoring the theatre’s machinery, the upper levels of the salons and the podium that houses one of France’s most important stage sets. The project is expected to be completed in spring 2019.
The funding is part of the UAE’s 2007 agreement with France, which has seen the château and 12 other institutions receive millions of euros of support in exchange for contributing loans and cultural expertise to the Emirates. Among the more high-profile projects is the Louvre Abu Dhabi, which may open in November. Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak, the chairman of Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority, says that the theatre renovation represents the UAE’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”.