The Rodin Museum, a Philadelphia landmark housing one of the world’s most important collection of Nineteenth Century sculpture, opened its doors to the public on November 29, 1929, exactly one month after the stock market crash that signaled the beginning of the Great Depression.
On the occasion of the 75th anniversary of this celebrated monument to the works of the great French sculptor Auguste Rodin (1840-1917), the museum will present a series of special events, programs and a new installation featuring provocative pairings of Rodin’s sculptures, including both plaster and bronze renditions of Rodin’s most lyrical work on the theme of human love, “Eternal Springtime,” 1884.
Anne d’Harnocourt, director of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, which has cared for and administered the Rodin Museum since 1939, said, “The museum is, more than ever, one of the city’s great cultural attractions and a key element of our growing campus along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.”
Beginning in September, the museum’s 75th anniversary celebration will feature a lively series of public programs, including family and children’s activities, school programs and concert performances, as well as a 75th Anniversary Gala planned for Thursday, October 14.
The museum will welcome Antoinette LeNormand-Romain, chief curator of the Musee Rodin in Paris, on Friday, October 15, at 4 pm, for a lecture entitled “Rodin and the Gates of Hell.” A French-language audio guide and a new children’s guide to the museum will also debut during the anniversary year.
“Echoes: Celebrating 75 Years of Rodin in Philadelphia,” the special exhibition scheduled to open on Friday, September 10, will illuminate the artist’s working process and how he developed his themes. Organized by John Zarobell, assistant curator for European painting and sculpture before 1900 at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the installation will feature approximately 20 sculptures in marble, bronze and plaster from the collection of the Rodin Museum, the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Musee Rodin, Paris.
A central focus of the installation is “Danaid,” 1902, one of Rodin’s most admired marbles, which was acquired by the Philadelphia Museum of Art in 2003. Among the artist’s most touching evocations of despair, “Danaid” – also known as “The Source” – represents the arched form of a young woman fallen to her knees over a broken vessel from which water flows gently, commingling with her hair. The sculpture was given to the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in 1902 by the Philadelphia artist Alexander Harrison (1853-1930), who acquired it directly from Rodin through the exchange of his own marine pictures. The American artist wrote to Rodin that “Danaid” would be a “patriotic artistic gift to the city of Philadelphia.”
A special component of the Rodin Museum’s website, rodinmuseum.org, will present an interactive replica of Rodin’s renowned “Carnet-Mastbaum” sketchbook. This fascinating and informative feature will also be on view in a special kiosk installed in the museum.
The museum’s gardens, including its reflecting pool and fountain, are undergoing an extensive renovation in honor of the celebration. A comprehensive plan has been developed that will recapture the elegance of Jacques Greber’s original designs for the gardens, which were completed in 1929.
The museum is on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway at 22nd Street. For information, 215-763-8100. Museum hours are Tuesday-Sunday, 10 am to 5 pm. Closed Mondays and holidays. A contribution of $3 per person is suggested.