I’ve mentioned before that I generally prefer historical museums to art museums. However, if I visit more art museums like the Rodin Museum in Philadelphia, I might just become a big fan.
The Rodin Museum features the works of a single artist, the great French sculptor Auguste Rodin. Even if you don’t know who Auguste Rodin is, I can pretty safely guarantee that you’ve seen some of his work. After all, his work “The Thinker” is one of the world’s most recognizable sculptures.
And, for those visiting the museum, it’s likely that “The Thinker” will be the first piece of his work that you encounter. In fact, even if you don’t want to enter the museum, you can still marvel at the statue as it sits right outside of the museum grounds along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.
“The Thinker” is backed by the Merdon Gate, a replica facade of the late 17th-century gate at Chateau d’Issy in France. Standing inside the gate stands two more of Rodin’s works: Adam and The Shade.
Moving onto the grounds of the Rodin Museum, there are several other statues that you can take a look at around the gardens before entering the museum itself.
As you walk up to the museum, make sure to take a moment to admire the immensely beautiful sculpted door at the entrance known as “The Gates of Hell.” Located at the museum’s entrance since it opened in 1929, the gate stands roughly 20-feet tall and depicts a scene from Dante’s “The Inferno.” Staring up at the statue, note the several figures that Rodin cast as independent works of art, including a smaller version of “The Thinker.”
The interior of the museum is grand. So grand in fact that it feels more like a monument to Rodin than a museum of his work. However, a museum it is, and it features more than 140 pieces of Rodin’s beautiful sculpture. In fact, Philadelphia’s Rodin Museum has the largest collection of the artist’s works outside of Paris, France. While it may not be nearly as large as the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, it’s still one of the largest single artist museums in the state.
However, don’t let the fact that the museum represents one artist and one medium keep you from visiting. Pieces range from life-size humans to small studies of the human hand and certainly have enough variety to make you forget they were all done by the same artist.
Even though I’m not a huge fan of art museums, however, I was simply enthralled by the Rodin Museum. Even better, its small size enabled me to feel like I was able to examine each piece of art without feeling overwhelmed. All told, my visit to the Rodin Museum only took about 45 minutes.
Overall, I think the Rodin Museum is definitely one of the best art museums in Pennsylvania. While you can visit the museum’s gardens and “The Thinker” statue without paying to enter, the quality of the interior shouldn’t be missed. True, the Rodin Museum may lack the diversity of the nearby Barnes Museum and the Philadelphia Museum of Art, but the sheer quality of the works make this a must-visit by anyone who can appreciate a beautiful piece of art.
Note: My visit to the Rodin Museum was hosted by Visit Philly. However, the thoughts expressed in this article are my own.
Hours: Wednesday-Monday: 10am-5pm
Cost: Adults: $10, Children, 12 & under: Free
Address: 2151 Benjamin Franklin Parkway