Paris’s Musée Rodin Gets a Much-Needed Facelift

Philadelphia’s Rodin Museum is gearing up for a big overhaul too.

The Rodin Museum, Paris reopens after a three year refurbishment. Photo courtesy of the Musée Rodin.

Following major renovations at the Musée Picasso, Paris will soon be graced with a second major museum reopening. The Hôtel Biron, home to the French capital’s Musée Rodin, closed on Monday and will reopen to the public early in September, transformed.

The inauguration will mark the end of an ambitious restoration project, started in 2010. One of Paris’s most popular museums, the Hôtel Biron welcomed 700,000 visitors in 2013 alone. The high volume has taken its toll on the 18th century house: its floors and delicate rocaille ceiling decoration were in urgent need of refurbishment.

Renovation efforts also involve extensive restoration of the original furniture, which until now have been kept in storage, away from the public eye. Some of it will be displayed as part of a period room, alongside Rodin’s personal art collection, in a new re-creation of the artist’s living quarters.

The initial construction stage of the project is now complete, and the next eight months will be dedicated to installing new exhibitions, which have been rethought to better reflect Rodin’s working process and the diversity of the collection. It features a whopping 6,600 sculptures as well as a large number of photographs, drawings, and objets d’art.

A new gallery dedicated to Rodin’s works on paper will also be added. As of October 2014, costs were estimated at €15,963,232, over half of which was paid for by the institution itself.

The museum reopens with several unseen artworks by Rodin.

The museum reopens with several unseen artworks by Rodin.
Photo: Musée Rodin

A Grand Aristocratic Home

Once a grand aristocratic home, the French state confiscated the Hôtel Biron in 1905. On the advice of his secretary, Rainer-Maria Rilke, Rodin set up studio in some of the salons in 1908, alongside several artists including Henri Matisse and Jean Cocteau.

In 1916, Rodin bequeathed his entire studio to the nation, on the condition that it would create a museum dedicated to his oeuvre. It opened at the Hôtel Biron in 1919 and virtually no major renovation work has taken place since that time.

Meanwhile, in Philadelphia, the Rodin Museum—which holds one of the US’s largest collections of works by the French sculptor—is about to undergo a complete reinstallation. Closed for a month, beginning January 8, 2015, the new exhibitions will focus on Rodin as a portraitist who captured the likeness of such celebrated figures as Gustav Mahler, Victor Hugo, and Honoré de Balzac.

“His portraits were prized in his day for their depth and honesty, and they continue to offer fascinating insights into his sculptural practice,” commented curator Jennifer Thompson. “In the new installation, visitors will have the opportunity to look at this prolific and complex artist from a fresh perspective.”

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