|Rodin Museum, Meudon Gate and The Thinker, 2012. Photograph courtesy Philadelphia Museum of Art|
Philadelphia's Rodin Museum will reopen to the public on July 13. Its collection, buildings and grounds have been restored to the condition that visitors would have experienced when the Rodin Museum first opened to the public in 1929.
Over the last three years, the comprehensive renovation has restored the gardens designed by Jacques Greber, the Meudon Gate and the exterior of the Rodin Museum (both designed by Philadelphia architect Paul Cret) and the interior. The renovation also reinstalled the museum's collection.
Visitors will see several of Rodin's greatest works, including The Burghers of Calais, as Cret initially installed them, in the garden, in niches on the Museum's facade, and in the arches of the Meudon Gate for the first time in many decades.
The reinstallation includes 90 works in a variety of mediums, including bronze, marble, terracotta and plaster, which explore Rodin's development of The Gates of Hell, a project inspired by Dante's Inferno, which consumed the artist for nearly four decades.
Returning the Rodin Museum to its original design required an extensive cleaning of the exterior stonework as well as the building's tall windows and high dramatic skylight that extends across the main gallery. 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 vision and to the passion of the Museum's founder, Philadelphia entrepreneur and collector Jules Mastbaum (1872-1926). Mastbaum paid for the first two bronze casts of Rodin's Gates, the earliest of which has stood in the Museum's portico since 1929.
The galleries will feature other major public sculptures, including maquettes for the monument honoring the celebrated French author of La Comedie Humaine, Honore de Balzac. Additional masterpieces on display 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.
Outside the Museum, eight works will be displayed in the garden, most of which have not been in their rightful places for decades. While both The Thinker and The Gates of Hell have stood in their same locations since 1929, Adam and The Shade will return 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. The Burghers of Calais once again occupies the semicircular garden where it stood until 1955.
Timothy Rub, the George D. Widener Director of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, stated, “As this important cultural district reaches another milestone this summer, with the opening of the new home for the Barnes Foundation just across 22nd Street, it was both fitting and necessary for us to focus attention on the Rodin Museum. This is, fundamentally, an act of stewardship, restoring one of Philadelphia’s loveliest buildings, which is notable for the purity of its design and the restrained elegance of its ornament, and reinstalling and reinterpreting one of the finest collections of Rodin to be found anywhere in the world. We hope that visitors to Philadelphia will count the Rodin Museum among this city’s finest artistic treasures and that the citizens of our city and region rediscover it as a place to meet, to reflect, and to enjoy the work of a brilliant and widely admired sculptor, Auguste Rodin."
Hand held multimedia devices will be available in the welcome center and the multimedia content will also be available through a downloadable app on personal devices. In the octagonal galleries, visitors will find couches where they can take the opportunity to respond to a changing array of 'creative prompts', submit sketchs or share written reflections about the Museum and its collection.
The Rodin Museum will be open to the public from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. Wednesday through Monday. The museum is closed on Tuesdays. Public tours led by Museum guides take place daily at 1:30 p.m. A full range of public programs will be produced, including activities for famlies with children and interactive art-creating programs.