The Musée Rodin, located in the beautiful 7th Arrondissement feels like a secret garden in which art, birds, and history nestle amongst the flora. This summer I unexpectedly got the opportunity to visit this hidden enclave of art history. I had began the day eager to visit The Musée d’Orsay, a museum housed in a renovated train station which exhibits many of my favorite impressionist works, but upon arriving at the museum I realized that no visitors were being allowed inside. Venturing closer, I was greeted by a large group of protestors, many of them curators for the museum itself. The museum had been closed as a result of a city-wide protest regarding wages and funding for many of France’s major museums. Realizing the importance of this cause, I tried to remain positive about the closure of my favorite museum and walked down a nearby alley with my family to explore. Little did I know, I would soon discover my new favorite museum nestled a few blocks away in a quiet neighborhood.
The Musée Rodin includes the gorgeous home of Auguste Rodin and the surrounding grounds which feature bronze castings of many of his most famous works. One of these works is The Gates of Hell (1880-1917), a haunting depiction of Dante’s Inferno carved into an enormous gate which was designed for a museum and never implemented. Part of what drew me to this museum was its domesticity. Walking through the open rooms and peering through the ornate windows into the gardens below made me feel as though I too were searching for inspiration for my next sculpture. The museum also featured many works by Camille Claudel, one of my favorite sculptors and other artists who often collaborated with Rodin. The interplay of the works and the home as well as the ways in which the artist’s works were connected was unlike any exhibit I had ever experienced.
As a whole, the interplay between the fluid sculptures, fluttering curtains, ornate chandeliers, and vast windows of the The Musée Rodin created an optical experience unlike one I had ever witnessed. I spent hours perusing the gardens, searching for hints of bronze and plaster amidst the bright flowers and prickly leaves. Behind me, the sun set over the Parisian skyline.