The Rodin Museum underwent a three-year restoration of the historic grounds to follow in the original spirit of French architect Paul Cret and French landscape designer Jacques Gréber.
The comprehensive renovation, restoration and reinstallation of the building and surrounding gardens offers an experience similar to those who visited the Rodin Museum when it first opened in 1929.
Several of Rodin’s most famous works, including The Burghers of Calais, can now be seen in the garden, as originally installed by Cret. Inside the museum, the galleries have been completely reinterpreted including an extensive tribute to the creation of Rodin’s monumental Gates of Hell.
The greatest hits of the famed 19th-century sculptor are all here – bronze casts of Eternal Springtime, The Gates of Hell, The Burghers of Calais, and, of course, The Thinker. Bold, energetic and emotionally intense, these works are set in a temple-like building down the Benjamin Franklin Parkway from the Philadelphia Museum of Art, which administers the collection.
All told, you’ll find more than 120 of the French master’s sculptures here, as well as a fascinating collection of drawings, paintings and studies. The variety of works on hand offers the perfect opportunity to contrast and compare the ways in which Rodin used and re-used the same stances, and even body parts, throughout his work.
The collection was brought together by Jules Mastbaum, an early film exhibitor in Philadelphia, who began assembling the works in 1913 with the idea of eventually donating them to the city. Mastbaum hired Jacques Greber, the French landscape architect responsible for the layout of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, and his collaborator Paul Philippe Cret, to design the elegant gardens and the building in which the works are now housed. He died before the project was completed in 1929.
Many of the sculptures are enticingly displayed outdoors in a formal garden or near the reflecting pool — offering one of Philadelphia’s most romantic settings and a true hidden gem.
Children can see that Rodin used the same hand model for many of his sculptures. They will be curious to discover that Rodin was nearsighted and used his hands to discover the world through touch.
Visitors can experience the collection in a new way with hand held multimedia devices available in the welcome center and a brand new downloadable app for personal devices.