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Making Rodin at The Met: Photos of a Gallery's Transformation

The B. Gerald Cantor Sculpture Gallery in 2012

The B. Gerald Cantor Sculpture Gallery, photographed in 2012 by Anna-Marie Kellen.

While walking through the B. Gerald Cantor Sculpture Gallery at The Met last week, I watched several visitors become overjoyed by the sight of a "Coming Soon" poster for the Rodin at The Met exhibition. Even 100 years after his death, Auguste Rodin remains an artist-celebrity whose creative vision continues to inspire admiration and whose image of brooding contemplation, The Thinker, is the subject of constant imitation.

The curatorial team's anticipation rises as we near the September 16 opening of Rodin at The Met, which celebrates the Museum's historic engagement with the renowned artist, whose sculptures, drawings, and prints it has collected since the 19th century.

The exhibition has provided the welcome opportunity—thanks to the support of the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Foundation—to make dramatic improvements to the popular gallery. These changes include a new color scheme reminiscent of the dark-hued Parisian exhibition galleries of the late 19th century in which Rodin presented his work.

The photographs below provide a behind-the-scenes look into the gallery's evolution.

Rodin's sculptures exhibited with blue paint

Before de-installing the gallery, we tested wall colors behind the large bronze Fallen Caryatid Carrying an Urn in the corner of the gallery. The dark slate hue brings out the bright blue and green tones of the bronze surface patina. (All photos courtesy the department of Department of European Sculpture and Decorative Arts)

Next, the gallery had to be cleared for painting and construction. Art movement on this scale happens in the early morning hours before the museum opens to the public.

Next, the gallery had to be cleared for painting and construction. Art movement on this scale happens in the early morning hours before the Museum opens to the public.

The Hand of God and other marble sculptures by Rodin lined up on pallets, ready for relocation.

The Hand of God and other marble sculptures by Rodin lined up on pallets, ready for relocation.

The Age of Bronze making its exit with Museum riggers (responsible for moving large-scale artworks) Lionel Carre (left) and Derrick Williams (right).

The Age of Bronze making its exit with Museum riggers (responsible for moving large-scale artworks) Lionel Carre (left) and Derrick Williams (right).

Rodin marbles and bronzes lined up in temporary storage

Rodin marbles and bronzes lined up in temporary storage.

Gallery 800 serves as a long artery connecting some of The Met's most highly trafficked second-floor spaces. It was impossible, therefore, to close the space entirely for renovations. Instead, visitors passing through the de-installed gallery caught a glimpse of the before-and-after wall colors: speckled yellow-beige on their left and slate-gray on their right.

Gallery 800 serves as a long artery connecting some of The Met's most highly trafficked second-floor spaces. It was therefore impossible to close the space entirely for renovations. Instead, visitors passing through the de-installed gallery caught a preview of the before-and-after wall colors: speckled yellow-beige on their left and slate-gray on their right as they walked east to west.

We chose a three-tone scheme, painting the walls, trim, and pedestals (as well as case interiors) in complementary shades of gray

We chose a three-tone scheme, painting the walls, trim, and pedestals (as well as case interiors) in complementary shades of gray.

Excitement builds as art begins to repopulate the gallery. Here, painting technicians and riggers install a painting called The River by Rodin's friend Puvis de Chavannes on the gallery's south wall

Excitement builds as art begins to repopulate the gallery. Here, painting technicians and rigger Michael Doscher install The River by Rodin's friend Puvis de Chavannes while Lionel Carre and Luis Nuñez look on.

Museum technicians William Winks and Juan Stacey install Rodin's marble bust Madame X next to Puvis's The River

Museum technicians William Winks and Juan Stacey install Rodin's marble bust Madame X next to Puvis's The River.

Museum rigger Luis Nuñez takes measurements to center The Age of Bronze on its base. Michael Doscher and Derrick Williams stand to his left and right.

Museum rigger Luis Nuñez takes measurements to center The Age of Bronze on its base. Michael Doscher and Derrick Williams stand to his left and right.


Related Links

Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History: "Auguste Rodin"

Clare Vincent, "Rodin at The Metropolitan Museum of Art," The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 38, no. 4 (Spring 1981).

Reinhold Miller and Gary Marolta, Rodin: The B. Gerald Cantor Collection (New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1986).

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