The Byzantine Fresco Chapel closed in March 2007 when the pieces were returned to Cyprus. The Menil Collection is studying ways to reuse the chapel building.
Art thieves—they aren't always as fun to root for as Audrey Hepburn and Peter O'Toole. In the 1980s, thieves broke into a centuries-old chapel in Cyprus, ripped the frescoes off the walls and cut them into 38 pieces to sell on the black market. Working with the Church of Cyprus, art patron Dominique de Menil rescued each fragment through the Menil Foundation, then restored them for two years while assigning her son François de Menil to design an intimate space to restore them to their original splendor. And so the Byzantine Fresco Chapel, an intriguing space of rock, wood and glass arched walls, was created in 1997 to display the priceless 13th-century art—the only intact Byzantine frescoes in the Western hemisphere. It's a great place to contemplate or be inspired by the religious iconography.
Towards the end of 2011, the Menil Foundation announced that the loan from the Church of Cyprus would be coming to an end. The frescoes were removed from the chapel in early March 2012 to be returned to Cyprus, where the pieces will be displayed at a museum in Nicosia.
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