By Mike Dunn
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Just two months after the opening of the Barnes Museum on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway (see related story), the neighboring Rodin Museum will experience a rebirth of its own this Friday.
The Rodin Museum will reopen to the public after a three-year, $9-million renovation that restores the site to the original vision of its architect, Paul Cret.
“Cleaning it up, restoring the detail, bringing it back to what Cret designed it to be in 1929 was really a principle goal,” says Timothy Rub, director and CEO of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, which administers the Rodin collection, including the famed sculptures The Thinker (right) and The Gates of Hell.
Rub says that restoring the site to match Cret’s plans proved to be a major task, which included identifying the building’s original paint colors, stripping off layers of paint, and even, in the main gallery, replicating the original linen cloth wall coverings.
And matching Cret’s vision is, for Rub, a source of pride.
“It was, for us, a matter of stewardship, of taking something that was great to begin with and that had become a little bit neglected and shopworn over time, and bringing it back to life again. It’s an extraordinary thing, and something that we should all value.”
Rub says several of the Rodin sculptures had been brought inside during the 1960s to protect them from pollution. Now they’re back to their original garden locations, with protective coatings added.
“They had been removed in the late 1960s because the effects of acid rain had begun to disfigure the surfaces of the sculptures, so they were brought inside for safekeeping,” Rub tells KYW Newsradio. “We were able not only to restore the original finishes but also to protect them against the environment in ways that will make sure they look good, not simply today, tomorrow, or next year, but for the future.”
Hear Mike Dunn’s full interview with Timothy Rub in this CBS Philly podcast…
The Rodin Museum is across 21st Street from the newly opened Barnes Museum, and as thousands flock to the Barnes, Rub hopes for some art-going synergy.
“To be able to say, ‘Come see the Rodin Museum — it’s been renewed, restored and it’s a beautiful thing,’ it was an opportunity that we could not afford to miss,” he says.
Part of what makes the Rodin Museum unique, notes Rub, lies in how Cret designed the building and its grounds specifically for these sculptures.
“It’s a beautiful building within a beautiful landscaped setting. And the relationship of collection to building is a very special one, because Paul Cret really designed the building with this collection in mind. And there are very few museums in this country where the ensemble together, the building and collection alike, sing in such a beautiful way. I think it’s a great experience.”