Paris has no shortage of top-tier art and culture institutions and yet, somehow, the Left Bank’s Rodin Museum has often been eclipsed by marquee destinations like the Louvre, the Musée d’Orsée, and the Pompidou. That’s a thing of the past as of last month, however, thanks to the museum’s unveiling after a three-year design overhaul. Plus, like all businesses and restaurants across town, the museum needs support after the terrorist attackst that rocked the city last month. Here are more reasons to go:
1. Improved flow and visitor experience
Open to the public since 1919, the Hôtel Biron (the 18th-century mansion and listed historic landmark that houses the collection) was in dire need of a refresher to meet the standards of a modern museum. In fact, this renovation was the first since Auguste Rodin himself used the space as his studio until his death in 1917. Among this year’s key updates: refurbished parquet flooring and woodwork (700,000 visitors per year had taken its toll), new furniture to display the sculptures, widened entryways for easier accessibility for the disabled, a new lift, and new bathrooms.
The space’s wood-paneled reception rooms have all been repainted or wallpapered with colors by Farrow & Ball. The company created the “Biron Gray” especially for the museum to complement the works exhibited on the ground floor. On the first floor, you’ll see more of a gray-green backdrop that, according to renovation architect Dominique Brard, corresponds to the color most often found when the walls were excavated. These subtle changes in color throughout the museum help to signal the passage from one section to the other.
As for the lighting, that too was considered carefully. An LED lighting system was designed to interfere very little with the exquisite natural light that illuminates each room through large windows. Controlled by computer, the system lends great flexibility to adjust the intensity based on weather conditions and time of day. Each light has an IP address to allow for close tracking and programming—the first format of its kind in the museum world.
2. A new museography with never-before-seen works
It wouldn’t be a new Musée Rodin without a few surprises. Aside from reviving the bones of the museum, the curator used this opportunity to rethink the visit altogether. The new tour emphasizes Rodin’s work in its entirety, from original plasters and sculptures to his own private collection of antiquities. The addition of new rooms—Rodin at the Hôtel Biron and Rodin and Antiquity—offers guests a far more immersive glimpse into Rodin’s life and career than ever before. The former room was reconstructed from period photographs and evokes the sculptor’s time at the Hôtel Biron. The latter, featuring 123 restored antiques removed from storage for the first time, showcases his passion for Greek, Roman, and Egyptian sculptures, which served as inspiration for his own work. Elsewhere, you’ll find some 80 plasters and terra-cotta and 50 paintings from the early part of Rodin’s career.
3. Robust cultural programs for 2016
The programming for 2016 was designed to fulfill the museum’s goals for its temporary exhibitions: enhance knowledge of Rodin, view his work in the light of modern sculpture, and introduce visitors to contemporary sculptors. Sculpture and Photography, which will launch in the spring, will highlight the fundamental links between the two art forms, while the fall exhibition will take guests into The Gates of Hell, Rodin’s storied work. On the first Wednesday evening of every month, theatrical readings will be held in the museum garden (weather permitting).
4. Chocolatier Patrick Roger’s exquisite chocolate sculpture
If there is a modern artist who deserves to be on display alongside Rodin, it’s Patrick Roger, the chocolatier and Meilleur Ouvrier de France (Best Craftsman of France) who is best known for his artistic chocolate sculptures—such as the giant chocolate orangutans! To inaugurate the reopening of the museum, Roger crafted a large, four-meter-tall chocolate installation called La Sculpture a du Goût (Sculpture With Taste), an interpretation of Rodin’s Balzac. The sculpture will remain in the museum’s entrance hall through February 21, 2016, while chocolate iterations of Rodin’s The Thinker decorate all nine of his shop windows at least through the end of the year. If only Rodin were alive to see all that he has inspired, even the edible.
Musée Rodin77 rue de Varenne, 75007
+33 (0) 1 44 18 61 10
Open daily except Monday.