Photo by Ruslan Kokarev
Photo by Ruslan Kokarev

Visiting the Rodin Museum in Paris

by Sharon Odegaard
Stripes Europe

The Musee Rodin Paris displays a fascinating collection of the famous artist’s sculptures and drawings. It is tucked away in the 7th arrondissement just across the street from the Invalides, with its very visible golden dome. The Rodin Museum is easy to miss, but when you find it, you can spend an enjoyable afternoon in the very place where Auguste Rodin, the famous sculpture who is famous for his work, The Thinker, lived for the last years of his life.

Photo by Sharon Odegaard

 

The permanent collections of Rodin’s art are in the Hotel Biron. The hotel was also home to painter Henri Matisse and dancer Isadora Duncan. Rodin was the only tenant from 1911 until his death in 1918. You can tour the gardens and the hotel, and the chapel at the front of the property is now the ticket office, café and gift shop.

The gardens display a pleasing array of the artist’s sculptures including The Thinker. It is quite intriguing to come upon this detailed artwork sitting among a ring of brightly colored flowers, hidden by tall bushes until you walk through a clearing. You can move all the way around and view the famous sculpture from different angles. It’s amazing to stand in the presence of Rodin’s masterpiece.

Photo by Sharon Odegaard

 

In the backyard garden is a wide swath of lawn, and to the sides are leafy arbors. Here, sculptures decorate the landscape. You will find bronze versions of well-known works including the Burghers of Calais and The Gates of Hell.  A rose garden gives the yard the appearance of a common yet beautiful garden, which makes it even more amazing to wander among art you may have read about and never imagined seeing up close.

The museum in the hotel was renovated a few years back and now you can peruse an extensive collection of Rodin’s work. The displays are arranged chronologically. On the ground floor you see examples of the artist’s training. Many sketches and unfinished works are in the museum. This allows you to understand the process and experiments Rodin used to come up with the final masterpieces.

On the ground floor, one room is reconstructed to show the way it was when Rodin lived there. Then you wind up the wide staircase to the second floor (or as Europeans say, the first floor). Rodin not only produced art, but he also collected it. Some of his personal collection is on display here, such as a painting by Vincent Van Gogh. Rodin’s most modern art is in the last rooms of the tour on this floor. Here you will find one of his most famous works, The Kiss.

Photo by Sharon Odegaard

 

You can rent an audio guide that will explain in detail some of the holdings of the museum. I found this helpful, though the guide focuses on only a few pieces in each of the many rooms.

The museum was created by Rodin in 1916 when he donated to the French state his own work as well as his collections. Rodin wrote, a few years before his death:

“I give the State all my works in plaster, marble, bronze and stone, and my drawings, as well as the collection of antiquities that I had such pleasure in assembling for the education and training of artists and workers. And I ask the State to keep all these collections in the Hôtel Biron, which will be the Musée Rodin, reserving the right to reside there all my life.”

Because of his generosity, anyone can enjoy an up-close look at Rodin’s art today.

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