Paris Reverie: Le Musée Rodin

"The main point is to be moved, to love, to hope, to tremble, to live. To be human before being an artist!" -Auguste Rodin

Most often, the big museums of the world receive heaps of praise from the press and from art-hungry tourists. But for me, the little collections of art delight my eye and capture my imagination.

While the Met or the Louvre or the Prado boast encyclopedic collections that seamlessly cover any major period or movement in art history, given a choice, I prefer museums with smaller yet carefully assembled collections.

In Paris, one of my favorite small museums is the Musée Rodin. Just a couple of blocks from the Invalides metro stop, the Musée Rodin with its tidy yet lush gardens and palatial building transports visitors into another time and place, removed from the honking horns and hustling people of the surrounding Parisian streets. It offers an artistic refuge in the heart of the frenetic city.

As an art historian, collections like those within the Musée Rodin are visually inspiring because they allow me to consider that artist's work in a comprehensive manner. I can trace the way in which Rodin sculpted hands or feet or noses as I move from
The Thinker to The Kiss to The Three Shades. I can view his sketches alongside his bronzes. From idea on paper to life size marble, the Musée Rodin gives its viewers the unique opportunity to truly study one artist, to get to know his work in the most intimate way.
What is your favorite small museum?

Images borrowed from Viewpoints, FAQs, WeeklyWilson, Cancellieri


  1. Mine is the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. Inspired by a Venetian palazzo and built around a beautiful lush courtyard, the museum was Mrs. Gardner's home.

    Isabella gave her home to Boston with the stipulation that her vast collection of Italian Renaissance paintings, paintings by John Singer Sargent and Whistler (friends of hers) and furnishings be displayed just as she had during her lifetime.

    So the museum seems more like a grand home -- the art displayed in an intimate and eclectic way. No galleries of paintings on the wall, here the paintings are part of her grand design. Regrettably, the museum gained even more prominence due to the art theft ten years ago.

    Sargent's painting of the flamenco dancer in the entry, covering an entire wall, is a favorite, a dramatic entrance.

    I love this museum because of its whimiscal personal touch. Oh, and if you're an Isabella, you get in for free!

  2. One of my favorite museums is The Mount in Lenox, MA, Edith Wharton's home which she designed herself and built in 1902. Incidentally, she was one of the first to write a book on interior design.

    Since I've inhabited the grand mansions of her novels, Age of Innocense being a favorite, I felt a special kinship when I visited The Mount. It's lovely and grand but not rediciulously so like the so-called "cottages" of the Vanderbilits and others in Newport. There's a beautiful sense of scale and proportion here with clean classical lines.

    Any favorite author's homes, Pink Frenchie? Or an artist's home?

  3. I love museums that were grand homes like Vizcaya in Tampa, Florida. I too like seeing paintings in a grand non-museum setting. I love those fabulous gardens. On the west coast, I like the Huntington museum. I love stepping back in time. For me, the most beautiful gardens are the Butchart Gardens in Victoria.


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