Monday, September 16, 2013

Philly's Rodin Museum Is A Rare Gem!

Rodin's The Thinker welcomes visitors to the museum.

A fountain and reflecting pool enhance the experience as visitors approach the entrance.
Looking back toward the Parkway.
The Philadelphia skyline as seen from the museum.

Doorway depicts Rodin's The Gates of Hell.
Detail - The Gates of Hell.
The Gates of Hell, looking upward.

The restored floor.

The ornate, decorative ceiling and skylight.
Column and ceiling detail.

On July 13 last year, Philadelphia’s Rodin Museum reopened to the public, its collection reinstalled and reinterpreted and its buildings and gardens restored to the condition that visitors would have experienced when the Rodin Museum first opened to the public on the same day (Bastille Day) in 1929. This is the culmination of a three-year effort. Now open for more than a year, The Rodin (adjacent to the newly completed Barnes Foundation) has been a huge success.

The comprehensive renovation of The Rodin, accomplished over a period of three years, included the restoration of the gardens designed by Jacques Gréber, the restoration of the Meudon Gate and exterior of the Rodin Museum, both designed by the great Philadelphia architect Paul Cret, and the restoration of the interior and reinstallation of the collection, which represents one of the most important holdings of Rodin’s work anywhere. Indeed, this is the largest collection of Rodin's works assembled outside of France.

Now, visitors can once again see several of Rodin’s greatest works, including The Burghers of Calais, in the garden, in niches on the Museum’s façade, and in the arches of the Meudon Gate for the first time in many decades, as Cret initially installed them. 

In the galleries of the Museum, you will encounter an entirely new presentation of the collection. The reinstallation includes 90 works in a variety of materials—bronze, marble, terracotta, and plaster—that survey the genesis and development of Rodin’s monumental The Gates of Hell, a project inspired by Dante’s Inferno that consumed the artist for nearly four decades, from 1880 until his death in 1917.

Visitors also 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. The Rodin Museum is open to the public from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. Wednesday through Monday. It is closed on Tuesdays.

The galleries also feature other major public sculptures, including maquettes for the monument honoring the celebrated French author of La Comédie Humaine, Honoré de Balzac that became recognized as a pioneering work of modernism. Additional masterpieces on view will include Rodin’s plaster of Eternal Springtime, an evocation of human love, and the Apotheosis of Victor Hugo. A marble, The Kiss, has also been returned to its original position in the Museum. A replica of Rodin’s original, it was carved for the Museum in 1929 by the sculptor Henri Gréber, father of the Parkway’s designer, Jacques Gréber, with the authorization of Rodin’s estate. A popular favorite in Philadelphia until it was removed in 1967, its return to the main gallery reflects its importance as a celebrated element of the Rodin Museum’s original scheme.

Outside the Museum, eight works are now displayed in the garden, most of which have not been seen there for decades. 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 and The Shade to their original places within the arches of the Meudon Gate for the first time since 1963. The Age of Bronze and Eve have also returned to the niches they originally occupied on the Museum building, overlooking the reflecting pool. To the east of the building, The Burghers of Calais once again occupies the semicircular garden where it stood until 1955, when it moved to the west entrance of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. In 1967, The Burghers of Calais was moved to the interior of the Rodin Museum, becoming its centerpiece. On the building’s west side, a space vacant of sculpture for most of the Museum’s history now contains a version of the monumental Three Shades, on loan from the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Foundation.

The Rodin Museum is a treasure you will not want to miss!

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