Paris’s Musée Rodin Holds Talks to Open in China

The French institution could loan 100 works while the Chinese museum builds its own collection.

A cast of Auguste Rodin's The Thinker (Le Penseur) in the garden of the Musée Rodin in Paris on November 12, 2015. Photo by Bertrand Guay/AFP/Getty Images.

The Musée Rodin in Paris is scouting sites for a Chinese outpost, which would be supported by the French culture ministry China’s State Administration of Cultural Heritage, and a leading Chinese collector of European art, Chinese media reports.

Earlier this month the museum’s director Catherine Chevillot and a team toured Shenzhen in the Guangdong province, Hangzhou in Zhejiang province, and Xiong’an New Area in Hebei province (a new urban district outside of Beijing), looking for a suitable location for the museum.

Chevillot also held a meeting with Chinese museum directors, sculptors and academics at Zhejiang University on Saturday, during which she said that the last word on where the museum will go depends on the views of the French culture ministry. 

For an initial period of six years, the Musée Rodin plans to lend more than 100 works by Auguste Rodin from its collection to the new museum, with the hope that the Chinese branch will eventually build its own collection of the French sculptor’s work.

“It’s not a project where we simply loan the work and then leave. It’s a deep cultural cooperation,” Chevillot reportedly said. 

The new museum will be headed by Wu Jing, a friend of Chevillot’s and a collector who already runs her own private European Art Museum in Hangzhou. Wu, who owns two pieces by Rodin already, hopes to woo private collectors of the artist’s work and gain the support of the French museum in negotiations to acquire work for the future museum. In the meantime, important works such as The Gates of Hell, The Age of Bronze and Balzac, as well as a plaster cast of Rodin’s most famous work, The Thinker, will travel to China. Temporary shows staged at the French museum will also tour to the sister location.

artnet News reached out to the Musée Rodin and the French culture ministry but has yet to hear back by time of publication.

The Paris museum was founded in 1919 with a collection Rodin donated to the state, comprising sculptures and drawings by the artist himself but also work produced by contemporaries, and a smattering of ancient art including some Chinese art. It has an additional site in the French town of Meudon in Rodin’s former home, the Villa des Brillants, which along with the Paris location attracts 700,000 visitors yearly.

Last year, the Centre Pompidou in Paris finalized a deal to launch of its first Chinese outpost in Shanghai. Due to open by 2019, the French institution plans to stage exhibitions in the David Chipperfield-designed West Bund Art Museum, initially for a five-year period.

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