• gerard van weyenbergh

Rodin Museum to sell sculptures to face losses due to virus

Updated: Jul 26

While facing significant financial losses linked to the health crisis, the Rodin museum can count on the sale of new casts from the originals by the sculptor. He has been practicing this activity since it opened in 1919.

After nearly four months of closure, the Rodin museum in Paris reopened, July 7 2020. The museum, which usually receives 550,000 visitors a year, 75% of whom are foreigners, must still restrict its reception capacity today, due to COVID-19. At the Biron hotel, the recovery looks particularly complicated and marked by a sharp drop in attendance. "Before the health crisis, all of our lights were green. We hoped to make a profit of 1.4 million this year, it will be a loss of 3 million on a budget of 11", confided Catherine Chevillot, the museum director, to newspaper Les Échos, the day before the reopening.

The institution of rue de Varenne (7th arrondissement of Paris), which has nearly 6,800 sculptures, 8,000 drawings, 10,000 old photographs, and 8,000 objects, must today intensify its activity of original bronze recasts to make facing the crisis.

A self-funded public museum

A national museum, born of Rodin's will, the Biron hotel does not receive any subsidy from the State and must, therefore, be self-financing. For this, he usually relies on the revenue from his shop, which generates 1.5 million euros, from the ticket office, which earns 3.5 million euros, from the restaurant and from the rental of spaces which allow a contribution of about 1 million euros each year.

Besides, the organization of traveling exhibitions and the sale of original bronze by Rodin completes the revenue.

Vested with the title of the beneficiary of Rodin estate, the institution is, in fact, responsible for the management of his work. Since the opening in 1919, the museum has had casting rights, which today generate around 30% of its budget.

These, defined by Rodin himself, set the maximum of original recasts per work at 12 copies. Although some masterpieces like Le Penseur, Les Bourgeois de Calais or Le Balzac have already been drawn to their maximum quantity, this is not the case for all of Rodin's sculptures.

Rodin at Gagosian

Before the health crisis, the museum sold around forty artists bronzes a year. Rare sales, generally reserved for collectors and institutions, which made it possible to enhance the work and the artist's price, of which two sculptures had recently found buyers for 4.4 million euros. This year, to face the crisis, the institution plans to offer nearly 130 for sale, using, in particular, the art galleries network. "We have also made agreements with contemporary art galleries in France. We will try in London next year, and we have a piece at Gagosian in New York, to reach new customers," explains Catherine Chevillot to the economic daily.

At the same time, the Rodin Museum is launching calls for online donations, a way to develop further its patronage, which had increased by 70% last year thanks to a donation of 1 million euros from the Caisse centrale de la reinsurance.

Connaissance des arts