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The Barnes Foundation building on Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia
|Location||300 North Latch's Lane|
Merion, Pennsylvania, United States
The Barnes Foundation building on Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia
|Location||300 North Latch's Lane|
Merion, Pennsylvania, United States
The Barnes Foundation is an American educational art and horticultural institution with locations in Merion, Pennsylvania, a suburb of Philadelphia, and Logan Square, Philadelphia. It was founded in 1922 by Albert C. Barnes, a chemist who collected art after making a fortune by co-developing an early anti-gonorrhea drug marketed as Argyrol and selling his company at the right time, before antibiotics came into use.
Today, the foundation possesses more than 2,500 objects, including 800 paintings, estimated to be worth about $25 billion. These are primarily works by Impressionist and Modernist masters, but the collection includes many other paintings by leading European and American artists, as well as ancient works from other cultures.
In the 1990s, the foundation became embroiled in controversy due to a financial crisis, partially related to longstanding visitor restrictions imposed by the original trust and to the location of its facility in a residential neighborhood. The foundation subsequently decided to relocate the collection, a decision that survived court challenges. Its move from Merion to a site in downtown Philadelphia, on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway for enhanced public access, was completed with the opening of the new building on May 19, 2012. The controversy was covered nationally, and a 2009 documentary, The Art of the Steal, argued that the foundation was the subject of a takeover by other non-profit institutions. It asserted that this violated Barnes' will and his desire to keep his collection private for educational purposes and outside the circle of the Philadelphia establishment.
In 1922, the architect Paul Cret designed a complex of buildings for the original facility, on the land purchased by Barnes from American Civil War veteran and horticulturist Captain Joseph Lapsley Wilson. The building features several unusual cubist bas-reliefs, commissioned by Barnes from the sculptor Jacques Lipchitz. The grounds, which were developed by his wife, Laura Barnes, with some of Wilson's plantings, comprise the Arboretum of the Barnes Foundation.
From 1912, Barnes, who derived his fortune from his development of the antiseptic drug Argyrol and a business to sell it, began to study and collect art. He was assisted at first by the painter William Glackens, with whom he had gone to Central High School in Philadelphia and become friends. In 1912 in Paris, Barnes visited the home of Gertrude and Leo Stein, where he became familiar with the work of such Modernist artists as Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso. Commissioned by Barnes, Glackens selected the first 20 works he purchased from modern painters in Paris.
In the 1920s, Barnes became acquainted with the work of Amedeo Modigliani and Giorgio de Chirico, thanks to the dealer Paul Guillaume. In 1922, Barnes began to transform his collection into a cultural institution. That year, he chartered the Barnes Foundation as an educational institution in the state of Pennsylvania, and began construction on the current complex of buildings in Merion. Soon afterward, a taxation dispute was filed in the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.
The Barnes Gallery was built on the grounds of Captain Joseph Lapsley Wilson's arboretum, established around 1880. Barnes built his home next to the gallery, and it now serves as the administration building of the foundation. His wife Laura Barnes developed the arboretum and the horticulture program, which have become integral parts of the foundation.
The collection includes 181 paintings by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, 69 by Paul Cézanne, 59 by Henri Matisse, 46 by Pablo Picasso, 21 by Chaim Soutine, 18 by Henri Rousseau, 16 by Amedeo Modigliani, 11 by Edgar Degas, 7 by Vincent Van Gogh, and 6 by Georges Seurat. One of Matisse's works of dancers was created for the main gallery space, where the triptych is above Palladian windows.
In addition, the collection holds works by numerous other European and American masters, including Giorgio de Chirico, Peter Paul Rubens, Titian, Paul Gauguin, El Greco, Francisco Goya, Edouard Manet, Jean Hugo, Claude Monet, Maurice Utrillo, William Glackens, Charles Demuth, and Maurice Prendergast. It also holds a variety of African artworks; ancient Egyptian, Greek, and Roman art; and American and European furniture, decorative arts and metalwork. A notable aspect of the foundation's art collection is its display of different types of items and works in "wall ensembles", which intentionally combine works from different time periods, geographic areas, and styles for the purpose of comparison and study.
Barnes's collaboration with the philosopher John Dewey strongly influenced his development of the original program of the foundation as a school rather than a typical museum. Dewey helped Barnes draw up its mandate. Barnes also hired two of Dewey's students, Lawrence Buermeyer (1889–1970) and Thomas Munro (1897–1974), to assist him with the early educational programs. Buermeyer and Munro each served as Associate Director of Education for several years, while Dewey served in the largely honorary position of Director of Education.
Barnes created detailed terms of operation in an indenture of trust to be honored in perpetuity after his death. These included limiting public admission to two days a week, so the school could use the art collection primarily for student study, and prohibiting the loan of works in the collection, colored reproductions of its works, touring the collection, and presenting touring exhibitions of other art. Matisse is said to have hailed the school as the only sane place in America to view art.
It was not until after Barnes's death and the resolution of legal challenges in 1961 that the public was allowed regular access to the collection. Public access was expanded to two and a half days a week, with a limit of 500 visitors per week; reservations were required by telephone at least two weeks in advance. An editor of The Philadelphia Inquirer, with the consent of, but not directly on behalf of, the Pennsylvania Attorney General, had filed an earlier suit for access but been unsuccessful.
In 1992, Richard H. Glanton, president of the foundation, said that extensive repairs were needed on the aging structure to upgrade its mechanical systems, preserve the fabric of the buildings, provide for maintenance and preservation of artworks, and provide security. In order to raise the money for such renovations, he needed to break some terms of the indenture in order to gain more revenue. From 1993 to 1995, he sent a selection of 83 of the collection's Impressionist and post-Impressionist paintings to be exhibited on a world tour, the proceeds of which were to pay for the needed renovations. Having been effectively removed from wide view for decades, the works attracted large crowds in numerous cities, including Washington, D.C.; Fort Worth, Texas; Paris; Tokyo; Toronto; and at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. People opposed to the loans and touring of works from the collection challenged the decisions in court, but lost.
When the foundation tried to extend its hours for public access and increase the number of visitors, it was opposed by Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, and the township. Later, a number of financial irregularities were discovered in the administration of the collection. Between the renovations, the irregularities, and the associated legal expenses of court challenges, the financial situation of the Barnes declined.
The revenues earned from the tour of paintings were not enough to ensure its endowment for the future. By the fall of 1998, board members Niara Sudarkasa and Richard Glanton were suing each other. Lincoln University, which controlled four of the five trustee seats by Barnes's will, began an investigation about the foundation's finances. The foundation's board believed that a similar investigation was warranted for activities during Glanton's tenure as president of the board. In 1998, the board of directors began a forensic audit conducted by Deloitte Touche, which showed the foundation had needed greater accountability and internal controls during the period from 1992 to 1998. In 1998,Kimberly Camp was hired as the foundation's first professional CEO. During her seven-year tenure, she turned the struggling foundation around and provided necessary support to the petition to relocate the Barnes to Philadelphia.
On September 24, 2002, the foundation announced that it would petition the Montgomery County Orphans' Court (which oversees its operations) to allow the art collection to be relocated to a more accessible site in Philadelphia (which offered a site on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway) and to increase the number of trustees from five to fifteen members. The foundation's indenture of trust stipulates that the paintings in the collection be kept "in exactly the places they are". The foundation argued that it needed to expand the board of trustees from five (four of which were held by persons appointed by Lincoln University) to fifteen members to support needed fundraising.
For the same reason, it needed to relocate the gallery from Lower Merion to a site in Center City, Philadelphia with greater public access, including via mass transit. In its brief to the court, the foundation said that donors were reluctant to commit continuing financial resources to the Barnes unless the gallery were to become more accessible to the public.
On December 15, 2004, after a two-year legal battle that included an examination of the foundation's financial situation, Judge Stanley Ott ruled that the foundation could relocate. Three charitable foundations, The Pew Charitable Trusts, the Lenfest Foundation and the Annenberg Foundation, had agreed to help the Barnes raise $150 million for a new building and endowment on the condition that the move be approved.
On June 13, 2005, the foundation's president, Kimberly Camp, announced her resignation, to take effect no later than January 1, 2006. Camp had been appointed in 1998 with the goal of stabilizing and restoring the foundation to its original mission. During her tenure, she initiated the Collection Assessment Project—the first-ever, full-scale cataloging and stabilization project for the multi-billion dollar collection—brought in exemplary professional staff, created the fundraising program, restored Ker-feal and the Barnes Arboretum and worked with the board to approve policies and procedures to make the foundation viable. In 2002, Dr. Bernard C. Watson initiated the proposal to move the Barnes.
In preparation for the move, the foundation appointed a new Director of Education, to preserve and expand the education program in the new gallery. It will be the site of the foundation's art and aesthetics courses. The foundation has pledged to reproduce Dr. Barnes's artistic arrangement of the artworks and other furniture within the new gallery to maintain the experience he intended to create.
In August 2006, the foundation announced that it was beginning a planning analysis for the new gallery. The board selected Derek Gillman (formerly of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts) as the new director and president. In June 2011, the foundation announced that it had successfully surpassed its $200 million fund-raising goal, of which $150 million will go toward construction of the Philadelphia building and associated costs, and $50 million will go to the foundation's endowment.
The foundation proceeded with relocation plans to a new facility in the 2000 block of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, near the Rodin Museum and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Tod Williams & Billie Tsien Architects of New York were lead architects of the building project. The building team also consisted of the Philadelphia-based firm, Ballinger, as associate architect; OLIN as landscape architect; and Fisher Marantz Stone as lighting designers. Aegis Property Group served as external project managers, with L. F. Driscoll as construction managers. Supervising and coordinating the project for the foundation is Project Executive Bill McDowell.
Construction for the new building started in Fall 2009 and was completed in May 2012, when the new building opened. The new facility houses the collection in galleries that replicate the scale, proportion and configuration of the original Merion galleries. Reviews have praised the new facility, saying more natural lighting has improved the viewing experience. The new site contains increased space for the foundation's art education program and conservation department, a retail shop, and cafe.
After Judge Ott's decision in 2004, The Friends of the Barnes Foundation and Montgomery County filed briefs in Montgomery County Orphan's Court to reopen the hearings that allowed the move. They hoped to persuade Judge Ott to reopen the case because of the changed circumstances in the County. On May 15, 2008, Judge Ott published an opinion dismissing the request of both the Friends of the Barnes Foundation and the Montgomery County Commissioners to reopen the case due to lack of standing. Congressman Jim Gerlach strongly supported keeping the Barnes in Lower Merion.
On May 20, 2009, Friends of the Barnes Foundation appeared before the Commissioners of the Delaware River Port Authority (DRPA) in Camden, New Jersey, to request that they reconsider their 2003 authorization of a grant of $500,000 toward the plan to relocate the foundation. They contended there was not sufficient evidence of substantial economic benefit to Philadelphia, and that DRPA had not undertaken necessary economic evaluation assessing the impact at both locations. They introduced a study by economist Matityahu Marcus that challenged claimed benefits. The DRPA said that it would consider the Friends' request but did not change its decision. The controversy is chronicled in the 2009 documentary The Art of the Steal, which point of view appears in its title.
In late February 2011, The Friends of the Barnes Foundation filed a petition to reopen the case. A new hearing, set for March 18, was postponed until August 3, 2011. The court ordered the foundation and the Attorney General's office, who argued in favor of the move, to explain why the case should not be reopened. The opposition group, Friends of the Barnes Foundation, says The Art of the Steal revealed that Ott did not have all the evidence in 2006, when he approved the art collection's move. Judge Ott ruled that the Friends of the Barnes Foundation had no legal standing and that there was no new information in the movie.
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Gustave Courbet, Les Bas Blancs, (Woman with White Stockings), ca 1861
Claude Monet, Camille au métier (1875)
Claude Monet, Le Bateau-atelier (1876)
Pierre-Auguste Renoir, "Jeune garçon sur la plage d'Yport" (1883)
Henri Toulouse-Lautrec, A Montrouge – Rosa la Rouge (1886–87)
Georges Seurat, Models (Poseuses) (1886–88)
Vincent van Gogh, The Smoker (1888)
Vincent van Gogh, Still Life (1888)
Vincent van Gogh, Portrait of the Postman Joseph Roulin (1889)
Vincent Van Gogh, Thatched Cottages in the Sunshine, 1890
Paul Cézanne, Pots en terre cuite et fleurs (1891–1892)
Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Noirmoutier (1892)
Paul Gauguin, Haere Pape (1892)
Paul Cézanne, The Card Players, (1890–92)
Paul Cézanne, Valley of the Arc (1892–95)
Paul Cézanne, Nature morte au crane (1896–1898)
Paul Cézanne, Portrait of a Woman (c. 1898)
Henri Rousseau, Scout attacked by a Tiger, 1904
Pierre Auguste Renoir, After The Bath, 1910
Pierre Auguste Renoir, Les baigneuses, 1918
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