The Rodin Museum, which houses a preeminent collection of sculpture by Auguste Rodin (1840-1917), will close temporarily for renovations beginning November 7, 1999. The Museum is scheduled to reopen in July 2000 (exact date is pending).
Anne d'Harnoncourt, Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, which administers the Rodin Museum, said, "While we regret this temporary closing, it is in a wonderful cause. When the Rodin Museum reopens next summer, it will welcome its visitors with air-conditioned comfort, and this beautiful building will look its best."
The scheduled renovations will complete a series of improvements begun in 1997, which included the creation of a new Visitor's Center and updated Museum Store. Overseen by Missy Maxwell, of Susan Maxman Architects, the initial renovations emphasized the beauty of Mastbaum's intention and the Cret-Gréber design through careful treatment of all surfaces of the Museum.
For the second phase of the renovations, which will focus on a new air-conditioning and climate-control system, Ms. Maxwell and the engineering firm Brinjac, Kambic & Associates, Inc, are working in consultation with the Conservation and Facilities departments of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and Joseph J. Rishel, who is The Gisela and Dennis Alter Senior Curator of European Painting, of the John G. Johnson Collection, and the Rodin Museum. Funding and contract administration are provided by the City of Philadelphia's Capitol Program's Office.
The Rodin Museum contains 127 bronzes, marbles and plasters representing every aspect of the artist's career and all his major projects. Highlights include a cast of The Burghers of Calais (1884-95), as well as The Thinker (1902-04), which greets visitors outside the Museum's entrance on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. Located at 22nd Street and the Benjamin Franklin Parkway (four blocks east of the Philadelphia Museum of Art), it is the legacy of one of Philadelphia's most prodigious and philanthropic collectors. Jules Mastbaum (1872-1926), owner of a chain of movie theaters, assembled his extraordinary holdings of sculpture and drawings by Auguste Rodin between 1923 and 1926. Mastbaum commissioned the gifted Beaux-Arts architects Paul Cret and Jacques Gréber to design a suitable building and garden, but died before his dream was realized. The Rodin Museum opened to the public in 1929, and has been a popular element in Philadelphia's cultural landscape ever since.