JAIC 1998, Volume 37, Number 2, Article 2 (pp. 173 to 186)
JAIC online
Journal of the American Institute for Conservation
JAIC 1998, Volume 37, Number 2, Article 2 (pp. 173 to 186)




Over the years the Cleveland Museum of Art has tried to care for The Thinker using such measures as waxes and oils—often intermittently—to maintain the sculpture. The museum's current philosophy for its care is a conservative one. The sculpture has certainly changed—to say nothing of the surface—from the time that it left Rodin's studio. Much of Rodin's artistic intent has been significantly altered or lost. After the bombing, the museum staff made the decision to preserve what remained of The Thinker.

The current goal of the museum is to keep its condition stable. A more aggressive treatment can be undertaken in the future. Not to treat an object is a valid treatment option, but it is not without ramifications.

Much of the original artistic intent of the Cleveland Museum of Art's Thinker has been altered. What was once a sculpture has become a historical document. The museum has preserved what is left of Rodin's sculpture as well as something of America's social history in the late 1960s and early 1970s. In a letter to Sherman Lee, dated June 18, 1971, Professor Albert Elsen succinctly summed up the problem and the solution: “I know the temptation will be strong to show it as it is, which makes it above all a monument to an insane act.”

Copyright 1998 American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works