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Rodin Museum Records

Identifier: ROD

Scope and Contents

The materials of the "Rodin Museum" series range from 1892 to 1986, including materials dating from the inception of the Rodin Museum. The records of the collection reflect the administration of the Rodin Museum, including correspondence, acquisitions receipts, lecture notes, publications, photographs, and copies of the bequest agreement with Fairmount Park Commissioners. The emphasis of the collection is primarily focused on the years when John L. Tancock resided as Associate Curator of Painting and Sculpture, from 1968 to 1972.

The records of the "Rodin Museum reinstallation" series span from 1982 to 1990. It contains records generated when the Rodin Museum had considerable renovation work done on both the building and grounds. During the renovation period, which included, replacing the entire electrical system and installing handicapped entrances the small bronzes, marbles and plasters located in areas being worked on were placed in storage. These records contain, conservation reports performed on the various objects, prior to their reinstallation, contractor negotiations, financial records, blueprints and reports.

Throughout the history of the Rodin Museum, the Directors' of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, as well as, the Curators of the Painting and Sculpture Department oversaw the administration of the Museum. Early records of the Rodin Museum will often be found in the Director's papers as well as the Curatorial or Department records. John Tancock served as the Curator of the Rodin Museum from 1968-1972 and generated a large amount of the records in the “Rodin Museum” series. The department of European Painting before 1900 continued to administer the Rodin Museum and collection after his departure. A photocopy of the building specification volume submitted by the architects Paul P. Cret and Jacques Greber in 1928 is available in the Archives Reference Files.


  • 1892-1991, undated


Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

The Rodin Museum Records are the physical property of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Archives. The Museum holds literary rights only for material created by Museum personnel or given to the Museum with such rights specifically assigned. For all other material, literary rights, including copyright, belong to the authors or their legal heirs and assigns. Researchers are responsible for obtaining permission from rights holders for publication and for other purposes where stated.

Biographical / Historical

The Rodin Museum, located on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, was constructed during the years 1926-1929 as a gift to the City of Philadelphia from Jules E. Mastbaum. The architects for the museum were Paul Philippe Cret and Jacques Greber, a Parisian who had previously conceived and worked on the development and planning of the Parkway. During the later years of his life, Mastbaum, a prominent philanthropist in Philadelphia, Head of the Stanley Company of America, and a movie theater magnate, had built the most important collection of Rodin's work outside of France, purchasing bronzes, prints, letters, books, and other documentary material from the Musée Rodin and other collections.

Originally, Jules Mastbaum wished to donate the building to the City of Philadelphia, making it city property, while remaining the owner of the works of art to be displayed there. However, Jules Mastbaum died before completing the negotiations with the Fairmount Park Commissioners. His wife, who was left to carry out the negotiations, altered the agreement by including the artworks in the gift to the City. In 1929, an agreement was drawn up between the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Fairmount Park Commission making the museum the caretaker of the Rodin Museum and its contents, while the City of Philadelphia retained ownership of the property.

The Rodin Museum remained untouched, aside from basic maintenance, until 1968 when the monumental bronze sculptures that had originally been installed on the grounds were brought inside to the Rodin Museum's main galleries in order to protect them from pollution and vandalism. This move brought about some discussion as to what to do with the side galleries. In 1982, an entrance for the physically handicapped was constructed. The smaller bronzes, marbles, and plasters which had been displayed in the gallery of the new entrance were removed and placed into storage. It became obvious to administrators that the installation of the galleries in Rodin Museum needed to be rethought and renovated. The renovation would include replacing the entire electrical system from 1929. Money was made available through two donors, the Alliance Francaise and the Women's Committee in 1988, enabling preliminary steps to be made toward the goals of the project. The Philadelphia Museum of Art and a National Endowment for the Arts grant made it financially possible for the work to be completed.

Works Consulted

  1. Philadelphia Museum of Art, Archives. Includes a binder entitled, "PMA Officers and Staff, 1876-present," which consists of photocopies of annual report listings from 1876 to 1990. Archives Reference Files
  2. (Philadelphia: Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1969). Tancock, John L. Handbook.
  3. (Philadelphia: The Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1976). Tancock, John L. The Sculpture of Auguste Rodin: the Collection of the Rodin Museum
  4. (Philadelphia: Pennsylvania Museum of Art, 1929). Watkins, Fridon, compiler. Catalogue of the Rodin Museum
  5. (Philadelphia: Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1989). Brownlee, David Bruce. Building the City Beautiful.


4 linear feet


The Rodin Museum houses Philadelphia movie theater magnate and philanthropist Jules E. Mastbaum's exceptional collection of works by French sculptor Auguste Rodin. Mastbaum amassed the collection between 1923 and 1926 for the expressed purpose of founding a museum for the citizens of Philadelphia. The building was designed by noted architects Paul Philippe Cret and Jacques Greber between 1926 and 1929. The Rodin Museum is administered by the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Records in this collection document the administration, maintenance, and renovation of the Rodin Museum.


Although the records have been generated from the same department they remain in separate groups called Rodin Museum, subgroup A and Rodin Reinstallation, subgroup B. The topical heading for these two groups of records is Rodin Museum, abbreviated ROD and the letter of the appropriate subgroup. Subgroup A contains the records of the Administration of the Rodin Museum from 1892-1986. Subgroup B (1982-1990) is the continuation of the Rodin Museum subgroup A, with a specific focus on the reinstallation of the galleries in that building. At the time of this writing, the European Painting Department is still overseeing the Rodin Museum and records will continue to be added to the record group.

Custodial History

The Rodin Museum records were transferred to the Archives in two separate batches from the European Painting Department, which currently oversees the administration of the Rodin Museum. The first "Rodin Museum" series (two cubic feet and one oversize box) was transferred on July 24, 1998 and the "Rodin Museum reinstallation" series (two document cases and one oversize box) was transferred in March of 1992.

Processing Information

These materials were arranged and described by Marcia Bassett. Funded by a grant from The Gladys Kriebel Delmas Foundation.


Guide to the Rodin Museum Records
Finding aid prepared by Marcia Bassett
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
Funded by a grant from The Gladys Kriebel Delmas Foundation

Repository Details

Part of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Library and Archives Repository

Philadelphia Museum of Art
PO Box 7646
Philadelphia PA 19101-7646 United States