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New Tacoma sculpture garden highlights works of Auguste Rodin

Including a cast of his iconic sculpture “The Thinker”

Rodin’s “The Thinker” in its new Tacoma home.
Courtesy of Weber Thompson

The LeMay Collections are perhaps better-known for their collection of vintage automobiles. But a new sculpture garden devoted to the works of French sculpture Auguste Rodin

Rodin is perhaps best-known for his 1903 sculpture “The Thinker.” A version cast from Rodin’s original foundry plasters—that is, formed in the 1990s, but from the actual mold sculpted by Rodin—sits along one of the garden’s paths. (The original sculpture, appropriately, still sits in the sculpture garden outside Musée Rodin in Paris.)

The garden, designed by Seattle firm Weber Thompson, winds through a 100-year Douglas fir forest on the grounds of historic military academy Marymount. In a nod to the history of the grounds, Weber Thompson used some materials as old as the forest and the casts. Wood was salvaged from century-old pickle barrels from Tacoma’s Nalley Foods pickle plant became two trellises bookending the garden’s path and benches along the way.

Courtesy of Weber Thompson

The garden also includes casts of Rodin’s “Eve” and “The Age of Bronze.” In a release announcing the garden, Weber Thompson noted that Rodin frequently used the same figures in multiple compositions at different scales—something the firm said is highlighted in this setting.

“[N]ot many people know of [the LeMay family’s] appreciation for the artistry of industrial design or the extent to which the site is a tribute to the American story,” said Weber Thompson landscape principal Rachael Meyer in a statement. “Building on the juxtaposition between what is old and what is new, the success of the garden design is evident in how integrated the sculptures feel in the natural, forested setting.”

The collection had a soft grand opening on November on the 100th anniversary of Rodin’s death. It’s now open to the public. Access comes with a ticket to the LeMay Fine Art Collection: free for members, $15 for adults, or $5 for youth.