The first-ever restoration of the outer dome of San José’s National Theater is under way thanks to foreign and private financing.
The National Theater was opened in 1897 and declared a national monument in 1965. Though minor efforts have been made to limit damage to the dome, this will be the first official restoration.
The ¢107 million ($190,000) cost of the restoration has been covered by donations from the queen of Spain (about $103,000), the German government (about $71,000) and cement company Holcim Costa Rica (about $15,000).
Culture Minister María Elena Carballo said she is thrilled the National Theater is getting the attention it “needs and deserves.” “This theater is indispensable to San José,” she said. “By making the effort to preserve it, we are celebrating the love Costa Ricans have for their National Theater.”
“The dome of the theater is of particular significance because it originally came from Belgium,” said National Theater Director Manuel Salas. “It is essential to maintaining the French influence of the structure.”
The entire roof and dome were initially painted red, which was later changed to green in hopes that green would show less discoloration from exposure to the elements.
According to Rodrigo Llosent, head of the National Theater Conservation Program, the most serious damage comes from rain and pigeon excrement.
“Because of these factors, oxidation of the metal has taken place at an accelerated rate,” Llosent said. “The new paint we are using will be more resistant to all these damaging conditions.”
The culture authorities expect to complete the restoration by this time next year.