Barnes Foundation

Barnes Foundation


The Barnes Foundation is an educational art institution in Lower Merion Township, a suburb of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in the United States. It is located directly in back of the Merion campus of Saint Joseph's University, off City Avenue. It was founded in 1922 by Dr. Albert C. Barnes, who made a fortune by co-developing an early antimicrobial drug, Argyrol.

Today, the Foundation possesses more than 2500 objects, including 800 paintings estimated to be worth more than $2 billion. Among its collection are 181 paintings by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, 69 by Paul Cézanne, and 60 by Henri Matisse, as well as numerous other modern masters, including George de Chirico, Paul Gauguin, El Greco, Francisco Goya, Edouard Manet, Amedeo Modigliani, Claude Monet, Pablo Picasso, Maurice Utrillo, Vincent Van Gogh, Maurice Prendergast, and a variety of African artworks.

The Foundation has become embroiled in controversy due to a financial crisis that lead to near bankruptcy in the 1990s, leading to the decision to relocate the gallery from Lower Merion to a site in Philadelphia, on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.

Gallery and arboretum

The school was constructed in 1922 in one great villa, designed by Paul Cret, on the grounds of the home of Dr. Albert C. Barnes. The grounds now form an arboretum in their own right (The Arboretum of the Barnes Foundation).


Barnes, who derived his fortune from his development of the antiseptic drug Argyrol, began, from 1910 on, to dedicate himself to the pursuit of the arts, assisted at first by the painter William Glackens, with whom he had become friends. In 1912, while in Paris, Barnes visited the home of Gertrude and Leo Stein, where he gained the acquaintance of such artists as Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso. In the 1920s he got to know, thanks to the merchant Paul Guillaume, the work of Amedeo Modigliani and Giorgio de Chirico. In 1922 Barnes began to transform his collection into a cultural institution, and in the same year began the job of construction of the center and underwriting the charter that sanctioned the birth of the Barnes Foundation.

The Barnes Gallery was built on the grounds of Captain Joseph Lapsley Wilson's fledgling Arboretum, not on the grounds of Albert Barnes' home. Barnes subsequently built his home next to the gallery, and this building is now the Administration building of the Foundation. Laura Barnes developed the Arboretum and the horticulture program, integral parts of the Barnes Foundation.

The original program of the Foundation, which was not a museum, but a school, was heavily influenced by the philosopher John Dewey, who helped Barnes draw up its mandate. [cite book |last=Jarzombek |first=Mark |authorlink=Mark Jarzombek |coauthors= |title=The Psychologizing of Modernity |year=2000 |publisher=Cambridge University Press |pages=135|location= |isbn=0521582385] [cite book |last=Meyers |first=Mary Ann |authorlink= |coauthors= |title=Art, Education, & African-American Culture : Albert Barnes and the Science of Philanthropy|year=2004 |publisher=Transaction Publishers Press |pages=|location= |isbn=0765802147] [cite book |last=Schack |first=William|authorlink= |coauthors= |title=Art and Argyrol; The Life and Career of Dr. Albert C. Barnes|year=1960 |publisher=Thomas Yoseloff Press |pages=|location= |isbn=] Dewey brought in two of his students to assist him in this, Lawrence Buermeyer (1889-1970) and Thomas Munro. Munro headed the Education Program at the Barnes for several years. [John Dewey, Albert C. Barnes, Laurence Buermeyer, Thomas Munro, Paul Gulliaume, Mary Mullen, & Violette De Mazia, "Art and Education" (Merion, PA: The Barnes Foundation Press, 1929)] In order to preserve the institution's identity, Barnes set out detailed terms of its 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 for student study, and prohibitions against lending works in the collection, touring the collection, and presenting touring exhibitions. Matisse is said to have hailed the school as the only sane place in America to view art.

Recent developments

In 1992 president of the Barnes Foundation, Richard Glanton claimed that extensive repairs needed on the aging structure required breaking some terms of the indenture, and from 1993 to 1995 a selection of 83 French Impressionist paintings were exhibited on a world tour, the proceeds of which were to be used to pay for the reconstruction. They traveled to various localities, including Washington, Paris, Tokyo, and Toronto. [cite web|url= |title=Art News: Tired of Fighting: A New Director is trying to turn around the embattled Barnes Foundation|accessdate=2007-09-13 |author=Jeffrey Kastner |date=1999-12-08 ||publisher=Art News Staff]

A number of financial irregularities arose. Between the renovations, these irregularities, and the associated legal expenses, the financial situation of the Barnes declined, in spite of millions of dollars in revenue from the painting tour. A 1999 forensic audit conducted by Deloitte Touche showed the Foundation to be nearing bankruptcy. [cite web|url= |title=Barnes: Keep audit closed|accessdate=2007-09-13 |author=Don Steinberg|date=2003-04-12 ||publisher=Philadelphia Inquirer]

On September 24, 2002, the Foundation announced that it would petition the Montgomery County Orphans' Court (which oversees its operations) to allow it to disregard two of the terms of Dr. Barnes's indenture as per Dr. Albert C. Barnes will: 1) limited the board of trustees to five members of which Lincoln University, PA was granted authority to name four of the five members, and 2) that the works in the collection must remain in perpetuity in the gallery in Lower Merion. cite web |url= |title=Judge Orders Barnes Foundation to Share Audit |accessdate=2007-09-12 |last= |first= |coauthors= |date=April 30, 2003 | |publisher=] The Foundation argued that it needed to expand the board of trustees to fifteen members to make fundraising viable, and that for the same reason it needed to relocate the gallery from Lower Merion to a site in Philadelphia on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. In its brief to the court, the Foundation stated that donors had proved to be reluctant to commit 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 (which included an examination of the Foundation's financial situation), Judge Stanley Ott of the Montgomery County Orphans' Court ruled that the Foundation could relocate. [cite web|url=|title= Montgomery Court Approves Barnes Foundation Move|accessdate=2007-09-13 |author=|date=2004-12-15||publisher=] Three charitable foundations, The Pew Charitable Trusts, The Lenfest Foundation and The Annenberg Foundation, had agreed to help the Barnes raise $150 million on the condition that the move be approved. [cite book |last=Anderson |first=John|authorlink= |coauthors= |title=Art Held Hostage: The Battle Over The Barnes Collection|year=2003 |publisher=W.W. Norton & Company Press |pages=|location= |isbn=0393048896]

Former students of The Barnes Foundation have expressed concern that the new gallery will be a full-scale museum rather than a school. They continue to protest to the trustees and public officials. The Foundation has repeatedly insisted that the education program will be preserved in the new gallery, which will continue to be the site of the Foundation's courses. The Foundation has also pledged to reproduce Dr. Barnes's idiosyncratic installation of artworks and other objects within the new gallery. [cite web|url= |title=Relocation Makes Sense, but it would be Wrong|accessdate=2007-09-13 |author=Edward J. Sozanski |date=2003-05-04 ||publisher=Philadelphia Inquirer]

After Judge Ott's decision in 2004, a group called Friends of the Barnes Foundation was formed consisting of former students, neighbors and art lovers from around the region and the world to try and find a way to keep the collection together in its home in Merion. As a result several steps have been taken to thwart the move. The Commissioners of Lower Merion Township have a zoning ordinance that would allow up to 145,000 people a year to visit the galleries in Merion with the gallery open 6 days a week. Montgomery County, Pennsylvania has offered to float a bond of $50 million to purchase the Barnes in a lease back arrangement thathey claim would allow the Foundation to be solvent in Merion. When the Foundation's board refused these offers the Friends of the Barnes petitioned the Montgomery County Orphan's Court to open the case citing issues unknown to the court at the last hearing and asking that the present trustees be removed and the Foundation placed in receivership. Montgomery County itself also petitioned the court to open the case. Congressman Jim Gerlach has continued to publicly support keeping the Barnes in Lower Merion. [cite web |url=|title= U.S. Representative Jim Gerlach's Statement Friends of the Barnes Lawsuit|accessdate=2007-09-13 |author=|date=||publisher=] [cite web |url=|title= United Political Front Asks PA Attorney General toReopen Barnes Case|accessdate=2007-09-13 |author=|date=||publisher=] On June 13, 2005, Barnes Foundation 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 making the foundation economically viable, and it was during her tenure that the proposal to move the Barnes was initiated. [cite web |url=|title= Barnes president to leave by January|accessdate=2007-09-13 |author=|date=| |publisher=]

In May 2006, the Foundation announced that it had successfully reached its $150 million fund-raising goal, and that it would now expand the campaign to raise another $50 million for endowment purposes. In August 2006, the Foundation announced that it was beginning a planning analysis for the new gallery, and that Derek Gillman (formerly of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts) had been selected as its new director and president. [cite web|url= |title=Barnes Foundation announces the appointment of Derek Gillman as its new Executive Director and President|accessdate=2007-09-13 |author=|date=2006-08-07||publisher=]

The Barnes Foundation is moving ahead with its plans to move its gallery collection to the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, [cite web |url=|title= Extreme Museum Makeover |accessdate=2007-09-13 |author=Witold Rybczynski |date=2005-04-27 | |publisher=] and have announced Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects will design its new home there. [cite web|url=|title=Barnes chooses its design team|accessdate=2007-09-13 |author=Edward J. Sozanski |date=2007-09-10 ||publisher=Philadelphia Inquirer] The Friends of the Barnes Foundation and Montgomery County have filed briefs in Montgomery County Orphan's Court to open the hearings that allowed the move. (February 29, 2008) They had hoped to persuade Judge Ott to reopen the case that gave permission to the Foundation to move the collection 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.

Notable holdings


External links

* [ Barnes Foundation Official site]
* [ Friends of the Barnes Foundation]

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