The Menil Collection
announced that March 4, 2012 will be the final day to see the Byzantine frescoes currently housed on its campus in the Byzantine Fresco Chapel, after which time they will be returned to the Orthodox Church of Cyprus. In celebration of the frescoes, their time in Houston, and the purpose-built Chapel that has been their home for fifteen years, the Menil will present special public events commemorating the return of this sacred art.
The works, the largest intact Byzantine frescoes in the Western hemisphere, have been on long-term loan to the Menil from the Orthodox Church of Cyprus following their rescue by the Menil Foundation twenty-eight years ago. They are being returned to Cyprus following the conclusion of the loan agreement between the two parties.
At the heart of the Menils mission is the belief that art and spirituality are powerful forces in contemporary society and central to a shared human experienceand that institutions have a responsibility to preserve and present objects as stewards, safeguarding their future. In November of this year, the museum hosted a panel discussion, Cultural Heritage 2.0: Participatory Stewardship, exploring how stewardship issues are being handled across disciplines outside of the museum field and what museums can learn from these other examples. In 2010, the Menil published Art and Activism: Projects of John and Dominique de Menil, which chronicles the founders work in this realm.
We are honored to have been entrusted as stewards of these extraordinary frescoes and to have exhibited them for the people of Houston and the world in a remarkable building, said Menil Director Josef Helfenstein. The return of the frescoes to Cyprus is just one chapter in their long history. I hope everyone will join us for these programs as we celebrate the frescoes time in Houston and their return to their home country.