June 29, 2012
The Rodin Museum, located just a few blocks from the Philadelphia Museum of Art on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, houses the largest public collection of works, outside of Paris, by the celebrated late 19th century French sculptor Auguste Rodin.
For the last three years, the Rodin Museum has undergone a near-complete overhaul that will finally be complete in just a few weeks.
The gorgeously restored gardens of the museum were unveiled to the public this time last year, on Bastille Day; and it will be on Bastille Day once again this year that the Rodin reveals its comprehensive renovation.
Fun fact: while Paul Cret was designing Dr. Albert Barnes’ gallery in Merion, the architect’s office was also working on plans for the Rodin Museum on the then-new Benjamin Franklin Parkway. Now, with the opening of The Barnes Foundation just steps away from the Rodin, the two art galleries stand side by side (although the new Barnes was not designed by Cret’s office; it was designed by Tod Williams and Billie Tsien).
Here’s a brief rundown of the Rodin renovations:
• Restoration of the gardens designed by Jacques Gréber: The landscaping was completed last summer, but later this month, visitors will once again see eight of Rodin’s greatest works in the garden, in niches on the museum’s façade and in the arches of the Meudon Gate for the first time in decades, as Cret initially installed them.
While both The Thinker and The Gates of Hell have stood in their same locations since 1929, advances in conservation undertaken by the Philadelphia Museum of Art have permitted the return of Adam, The Shade, The Burghers of Calais, Three Shades and more to their original positions.
• Cleaning of the exterior: Returning the Rodin Museum to its original design has required a comprehensive cleaning that embraced the exterior stonework as well as the building’s tall windows and high dramatic skylight that extends across the vaulted main gallery and now bathes the space below in more daylight.
• Reinstallation of the collection: The galleries’ reinstallation was configured to reflect the works’ original composition within the museum. Works will be restored to their original positions.
• New interpretive tools: Visitors will be able to learn more about Rodin’s work through new interpretive tools, including a new mobile app, and new public programs such as family activities and performances.
• Inaugural exhibition: Within the refurbished galleries, the inaugural installation of the collection will be dedicated to The Gates of Hell as a tribute to the artist’s epic vision and to the passion of the museum’s founder, Philadelphia entrepreneur and collector Jules Mastbaum (1872–1926). It includes 90 works in a variety of materials that survey the genesis and development of the project that consumed the artist for nearly four decades, from 1880 until his death in 1917.
Interested in ways to experience the Rodin even more closely? Public tours led by Museum guides will take place daily at 1:30 p.m.
In addition, the Rodin will premiere a brand new concert series in conjunction with its summer opening:
• July 22: Spectral Impressions: Music of computer music pioneer Tristan Murail
• July 28: Spectral Impressions: Music of Philippe Hurel by the Argento Chamber Ensemble
Both concerts are 5:30-8 p.m. and offer drinks and light snacks for purchase. Tickets are $25; call (215) 235-7469. You can also get two concert packages: the Thinker Package includes a VIP tour with Rodin Associate Curator Jennifer Thompson and a meet and greet with Murail for $75; the Crescendo Package includes just the latter for $50.
The Rodin Museum will be open to the public from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Wednesday through Monday. Check out more photos, below.
Benjamin Franklin Parkway and 22nd Street