The Thinker

One of the last of Auguste Rodin’s supervised casts of the famous The Thinker sculpture can be found in Cleveland where it sits outside in front of the Cleveland Museum of Art. This cast was acquired in 1916, and given to the Cleveland Museum of Art early in 1917.

The Thinker by Rodin at the Cleveland Museum of Art

The Thinker by Rodin

On March 24, 1970, a bomb irreparably damaged the sculpture. The bomb itself had been placed on a pedestal that supported the enlargement and had the power of about three sticks of dynamite.

No one was injured in the subsequent blast, but the statue’s base and lower legs were destroyed. The remaining sections of the cast were blown backward to form a ‘plume’ at the base, and the entire statue was knocked to the ground.

The Thinker statue by Rodin in Cleveland

According to the Cleveland Police Department, this act of vandalism was committed by a cell of the politically radical Weather Underground that was operating in Cleveland at the time. It was reported that this attack was a commentary on the continuing military action in Vietnam or the elitism of the American government.

Plaque on The Thinker statue by Rodin in Cleveland

Since the piece was so dramatically damaged, the Museum was unsure how to proceed. Finally it was decided that the statue should not be repaired, but placed outside the Museum in its damaged condition because it preserved what was left of Rodin’s original work and because the damaged sculpture would bear vivid witness to a period of political unrest in the United States during the Vietnam War.

Rodin's The Thinker at Cleveland Museum of Art

The Cleveland Museum of Art
11150 East Blvd, Cleveland, OH 44106