Nobody to blame but Albert C. Barnes for the Barnes Foundation’s moving

Renoir's "The Promenade"

(March 2010) No one feels worse than Emsworth that the Barnes Foundation’s fabulous collection of post-impressionist and modern art is leaving its home in Merion, Pennsylvania and moving to downtown Philadelphia.

What an extraordinary place the Barnes is! We discovered it about 15 years ago: the world’s richest stash of Cezannes, Renoirs, Modiglianis, Matisses, van Goghs, and Picassos, all hidden away in a marvelous mansion surrounded by exotic gardens on a hard-to-find residential street in suburban Philly.   [Update: we went back to Merion one last time.  See this post.]

Seeing these masterpieces has been all the sweeter for the sense of enjoying stolen fruit. The Barnes management has always done its best to make visitors feel unwelcome, starting with its arbitrary and complicated rules for making “reservations.” If you do manage to find your way to North Latches Lane, the security people look over your paperwork at more checkpoints than East Berlin during the Cold War. The gallery personnel inside are hostile and irascible. No photography’s allowed, never mind the ostensibly educational purposes of the Foundation. Emsworth was once chastised by parking lot personnel for eating his breakfast muffin inside his car.

Albert Barnes didn't care much for impressionists other than Renoir, but he did collect this superb 1875 Monet (The Woman at Work)

But the aggravation would be worth it if it were only for Seurat’s stunning “Models” and Van Gogh’s “Postman.” For years we were torn between wanting to tell every art lover we knew about the Barnes and the fear of what might happen if it got to be too well known. But now it’s all moot, because the Barnes Foundation is hopelessly and irretrievably broke, and its directors have arranged to move the entire dazzling collection a few miles south into a real museum that’s already being built on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, just a few blocks below the Philadelphia Museum of Art. 2010 is the last year we’ll be able to see the Barnes pictures in their natural habitat.

Words cannot convey the richness and wonder of the Barnes collection . The Cezannes alone! Dozens of first-quality Cezannes, many more than in any museum in the world. The Card Players — the finest and largest in Cezanne’s celebrated series. One of the three Large Bathers pictures (the other two are at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and in London). Breathtakingly perfect still lifes. And glorious Cezanne landscapes, including Emsworth’s favorite of all the Mt. Saint Victoire vistas.

And more Renoirs than anywhere else in the world. And one of the most important canvases in the history of modern art, Matisse’s 1909 The Joy of Life.

At the Barnes, Matisse's The Joy of Life hangs in the landing of a stairwell

They’re are all being moved, and some people are extremely upset. A couple weeks ago we paid Time-Warner Cable $7.95 to see an overwrought documentary movie entitled The Art of the Steal, whose makers want the world to believe that a cabal of rich Philadelphians have successfully conspired to acquire control of Barnes’s incredibly valuable art collection for their own greedy purposes. (The movie isn’t scheduled to play at Rochester’s Little Theater until April; how was it already on cable?)

The flaws and fallacies in this documentary were so transparent that Michael Moore himself might have produced it. To begin with, nobody has actually stolen anything; the Barnes Foundation still owns the paintings and will continue to own them. The Philadelphia Museum of Art and other downtown Philadelphia venues will simply benefit from having the Barnes pictures in a nearby museum that’ll be easy for tourists to drop in on. The people in the film kept yammering hysterically about a $100,000,000 state budget item that supposedly showed that money to save the Barnes was available and that the move was unnecessary, but one can tell just from the movie itself that no funds had actually been appropriated, and our research has confirmed that this was the case. It was even clearer that any such money would have been earmarked for a new home for the Barnes collection — not to keep the Foundation operating in Merion!

Among Emsworth's favorite Modigliani paintings at the Barnes is this urban landscape, a rare Modigliani that does not portray a human figure

The only part in The Art of the Steal that we don’t really doubt is its drumbeat that Dr. Albert C. Barnes never wanted his art collection to go anywhere else, especially not to downtown Philadelphia. He despised the art establishment types who ran the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and he wanted his works of art to hang on the walls just as he left them for the benefit of art students who would be taught his own idiosyncratic theories of art.

But what of it? There’s a lot of tiresome talk in The Art of the Steal about how Barnes hired the best trusts and estates lawyers money could buy to make sure his egocentric vision would be carried on after he died. But stating your intentions in a will is one thing; funding those intentions and making sure they’re carried out is something else. Albert C. Barnes didn’t do either.

Good lawyers, for instance, hardly would have advised Barnes to leave the management of the Barnes Foundation and its money to amateurs. No doubt Barnes thought that giving a small Philadelphia college a perpetual right to name five trustees for his Foundation was a good joke. But what made him think that the college would name the right people? Clearly they didn’t; the results were disastrous. The first director named by the trustees, one of Barnes’s disciples who was even more hostile to the public than Barnes himself, didn’t even keep the collection open to the public for the two days a week that his will stipulated, foregoing important income. For decades the trustees failed to make timely repairs to the building, risking damage to the art. And they failed to develop sources of external financial support for the Foundation.

Whose fault is that? And if Barnes wanted to make sure his enemies in the Philadelphia art community could never get their mitts on his Foundation, why didn’t his will provide that the board of trustees could never be expanded so as to make room for them?

This Cezanne still life at the Barnes, "Compotier, Pitcher and Fruit," is as close to perfection as art can get

Rich as he was, Barnes apparently didn’t endow the Barnes Foundation adequately in the first place, or wasn’t able to. The movie libelously implies that, in recent years at least, the trustees deliberately wasted money and ran the institution into the ground so that the collection would have to be moved from Merion. That’s hard to swallow. But no matter whose fault that was, when the money was gone — and with no one volunteering to put up $150,000,000 to keep the pictures in Merion — what else could the trustees do?

It’s hard to believe that the Barnes pictures are really leaving Merion, no longer to be enjoyed merely by intrepid, difficult-to-discourage art lovers like Emsworth, but instead by unworthy, unwashed masses of tourists in downtown Philadelphia. But only blind fools would think it couldn’t have happened without perfidy and sculduggery.

[We made a final visit to Merion in September 2010.  See this post.]


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  1. How is a foundation with $25B in assets broke ? The idea that anyone with such assets would be unable to obtain financing using said assets as collateral is patently ridiculous.
    This is a matter of ownership, and a legal will stating the intentions of the owner that have not been protected.
    It seems like an eminent domain action by a city/state maybe not of the art itself, but of the foundation.
    Your reasons stating otherwise are weak and most likely biased.

  2. Dr.Barnes wanted to preserve the legacy of his art which he built with his own talent and money. Thieves and opportunists blatantly dismantled it. They created their own devious agenda from a dad man’s will. Disgusting.

  3. Makes me sick, stealing from dead people!

  4. Philly Scum! Makes me sick how they could steal from the dead.

  5. I am reminded of the infamous saying from the Vietnam War: “We had to destroy the village in order to save it.”

    Oh, and to Steven, who said: ” As for Annenberg’s obsession I shall visit his tomb and have a masterpiece left for him by my dog in his stinking selfish dishonor. The will of the private property owner has been trampled by the self righteous rich socialists”

    You must not know much about Annenberg (or didn’ta ctually watch the documentary “Art of the Steal”) if you describe his foundation as “socialist”. Annenberg was as big a right-wing Robber Barron capitalist as ever existed.

  6. At least Emsworth has a slight shred of integrity left, enough to leave all of these beautiful, accurate, moving comments posted here. But I doubt if they understand. I think Ol’ Dr. Barnes was perhaps correct. The common man knows more than the “expert”. He does not have an agenda. The incredible thing in the film is that not one institution in the US had the courage to speak out. Sad, sad state of affairs for our “modern” museum SYSTEM.

  7. The “Barnes Foundation” may still own the pieces of art but the foundation is now comprised by a bunch of political cronies who care about the money that can be made off of the art than the art itself. Shame on the corrupt politicians and greedy plutocrats of Philadelphia.

  8. I have just this afternoon seen this documentary on Australian T.V. I am appauled that – in the state of Philadelphia – of all the staes of America that such an appauling theft was allowed to happen. Shame, shame, shame on all those who consiped to pervert the wishes of a fellow citizen in such a way.
    So much for upholding the law of the land, so much for honouring the dying wishes of a citizen, so much for honesty, transparency and support to bequest that was to support and mentor generations of new artists in the US.
    I cannot believe – that with the wealth of that sate of the US – that this resouce was lost to the nation forever.

  9. I do business in Philly twice a year and take the family. I was a member of the Barnes Foundation. I will never renew, nor give another penny for any of these institutions in this city. Complete disregard for another’s wishes. Complete hogwash for Brotherly Love. Will only eat at small mom and pop restaurants when have to, otherwise will never support the city of Philadelphia again, and will teach my children to do likewise. Looks like Rochester is off the list to visit also, considering the welcome regard for thievery…

  10. Just spent a wonderful Sunday afternoon at the Barnes exhibit in downtown Philadelphia. Staff were very pleasant and accommodating. The exhibits were carefully and artfully laid out as they were originally intended by Dr. Barnes and professionally managed. To have done otherwise to this collection than if Dr. Barnes had burned them all or left them to rot in an attic.

  11. Can anyone say boycott? Boycott the theft of the Barnes collection museum. Boycott Philadelphia! Brotherly Love has abandoned you.

  12. Emsworth, Rindell, Glaston and the rest of the carpetbaggers/art lovers who condone thievery.
    You’re either part of the solution or you’re part of the problem.

  13. Just returned from this abomination …have never been treated as rudely in any museum I have ever visited….quite simply not worth it

  14. I am not an Art enthusiast and have no dog in this fight but I can say without a doubt that this was Dr. Barnes art and he stipulated where and how it was going to be displayed…Period! Someone mentioned that the Barnes Institute still owns the art? How do you own something you have zero control over? Barnes was not always rich so the rich stealing from the rich is a poor analogy he built an art collection worth billions based on his own Intuition and vision. What he gained is now being sold lot a common street vendor.

  15. I just saw “The Art of the Steal” and I agree with its overall conclusion, but with what I believe is tighter logic. The court decision cites the “doctrine of deviation” as the basis for deviating from Mr. Barnes’s wishes as spelled out in his indenture. However, the court decision states, “if the court is convinced that deviation is appropriate, it must choose the least drastic modification.” The art collection was apparently worth at least $25 billion versus the cost of a new building in Philadelphia of $100 million and a new endowment of $50 million. It would have been much less “drastic” to sell 1% of the collection for $250 million, renovate the Merion facility for $50 million, and create a very strong endowment of $200 million. The judge violated his own case law and chose an extremely drastic modification of Mr. Barnes’s indenture.

  16. So you got to see the collection in its original setting but screw everyone else? You sound like the most typical Republican. The “Art of the Steal” was like a doc. made by Michael Moore? It’s transparent whose side you are on. Are you an Annenberg heir?

    He hated Barnes but found it quite delightful to take some of the paintings that you say you love and had them put away in the Met with the stipulation that they NEVER be displayed. How very democratic of him.

    It was a steal and you know it. The foundations, politicians, judges who did this know it but they rely on people like you to dilute the truth and attempt to fool people about what really happened. Too late, the rest of us already know the truth. I can’t wait to see your will desecrated.

  17. They had an excess of money to fund the paintings right where the owner’s (Barne’s) will states. It was legislated into a budget committee bill in the sum of 100,000 million dollars. This oney was placed in the bill to MOVE the Barnes paintings before those who initiated the move revealed they were working to do that. Whey didn’t they simply earmark these funds for leaving the paintings in their historical context where the owner adamantly wanted. They are his paintings and his Will has been totally disregarded. That is a lose of freedom for all of us.

  18. Where does the figure of $150 million to keep the Barnes in Merion come from. Isn’t that the cost of the new museum on the Parkway? I would have thought the Barnes could have been kept in Merion for $15 -25 million. How much would a rehab of the current building cost? Not more than that, unless you were going to completely gut renovate it and make everything state of the art. They could have loaned the art out for a percentage of the income various museums took in like Glanton did when faced with a similar fiscal crisis in the mid 90s, and hired some pros to do a massive fund-raising campaign to rebuild the foundation’s cash stores. While the former would have gone against Barnes desire’s it would have been a worthy sacrifice to keep his greater vision (which I’m still on the fence on; particularly as the neighborhood and the Township are not very welcoming to poor people, especially those of color).

    It was a theft. They didn’t steal the art–they stole the foundation, or rather wrestled away control of it. Now the Barnes is going to be run by Pew, Annenberg and Lenfelt (spelling?), in collaboration with the city and the state. There may still be a straw man driving, but these institutions are the ones who own the car (the road too but that’s almost besides the point). nBut it was a theft by the rich from the rich, so I’m not sure if that’s such a big deal. Rich people certainly get in an uproar when the markers of their wealth are threatened. If they only put so much concern into the lives of the rest of us, the world might be a better place.

    In the end it boils down to what is the setting that most benefits humanity. Barnes was a bit conflicted himself on the issue of socialism. He seems to have been a strong supporter of property rights, but he was a rich guy who turned his money into beauty so who could blame him for wanting to keep it in his hands. Both sides have their points. I think the story–especially when cinematized (Ha I made that word up!) is as interesting as the art itself, though I’ll admit the art is probably nicer to look at when you see it in person.

  19. If Dr. Barnes had have wanted ‘everyone’ to see it he would have left it to the nation.
    Dr. Barnes created a homogenous new work of art, what we now call an ‘installation’ out of his collection, and that is why he wanted it to remain where it was created.
    Two of the main conditions of the will have been flouted, namely that collection has been ‘hawked’ all over the world, and is now to be moved. Of course the third one will be honoured in that none of the works will be sold. Ironic that all the collection needed to do to be able to save itself was the sale of one second rate Picasso.
    I should wager that the new museum under construction to house the Barnes will make $150,000 profit per year on coffee sales alone,if not more, that toilet facilities are 10 times those of the foundation, and that the new building includes a loading dock so all those, mugs and tea towels, ties and diaries can be fast tracked straight onto the gift shop shelves.
    Go the whole hog. Move Dr. Barnes’ remains to the front step of the new ‘museum’ so that the visitors can walk all over him just like all those who have been instrumental in the moving of the collection have.
    ‘In God we trust. The land of the free!’
    Don’t make me laugh.

  20. The people who run this foundation and who think they know art and what to do with it, HAVE ABSOLUTELY NO CLUE! It’s like what Matisse said “it’s the only sane place in America to view art” So it’s not only about THE ART, but also where it’s housed. And that made the collection what it was. When you take one item away you are destroying the collection as it is/was. So in the end was it about THE BARNES FOUNDATION, or was it about the BENJAMINS (to line their own pockets!!!).

    To me it’s clear that for the board of this foundation, it was about the BENJAMINS! They don’t get art, the only thing they get is MONEY! Their true GOD! The only art they really like are the numbers on their account and the bank is their museum! The higher the balance the more GOD like powers! The less the law apply to them! Right?

    But they created a new problem for them selves. To them hell is a negative balance! So when using these tactics to destroy someones will and legacy, who’s gonna stop some other greedy MONEY grabber from taking their legacy/money?

    It’s jet another great institute destroyed in the name of greed!

  21. Anonymous:
    I’ll ignore the name-calling. Why exactly am I wrong?

  22. You’re dead wrong. This is thievery of the highest order and it’s simps like you that endorse the crime.

  23. Joe:

    It IS pretentious, I suppose — no doubt you’re right about that. But you’re mistaken in thinking I’m gay. I’ve never been attracted to men and you’re the first person, best as I can remember, who ever thought I was.

    No hard feelings. If you’re ever in the Rochester, NY area, drop me an email. The wife and I would be glad to have you over for dinner.


  24. Wow. Stumbled on your blog after seeing Art of the Steal and looking for more information on Albert Barnes. Could you possibly sound any more like a bitter, angry queen? (And this is coming from an openly gay man.) And how pretentious are you that you not only refer to yourself in the third person but also use only one name? Wow again. I’m sure glad I’ll never have the misfortune to meet you. It’s people like you who help give all gay men a bad reputation.

  25. It’s to bad a little history “The Barnes Collection” is being moved by the
    “do gooders” of the world. Trying to preserve the true history of the barnes collection and keeping the collection, the estate, the vision is something these “do gooders” of society just can’t see. They are blind individuals.
    The “do gooders” have protected Morgan Library, Huntington Library, Ca, Hearst Castle,Ca with all the rocks, trees, rivers, for the good of the people. Why not the Barnes Collection.?
    I would think all these individuals who want the Collection moved out of Merion would have the brains to keep the collection in the historical location and content.
    Guess not! It’s hard for these individuals to look into the mirror.

  26. “The argument that the collection was in danger doesn’t wash. A foundation that controls a 25-35 billion dollars worth of art and can’t finance 150 million to renovate the building and preserve the integrity of the foundation is laughable!”

    Exactly! They managed to raise $2 mil to build the new Barnes, but didn’t lift a damn finger to keep the art where it belongs.

  27. Albert C Barnes was a “collector” of art – not an “artist”! He died after amassing a fortune, learning a few things about art and gathering a great collection of particular types of art. But what he never learned apparently, is that life and art move on – and people continue to fight over what it’s all about.

    Albert might’ve been a great “genius” in the art of making money – but he was as limited as all of us in his appreciation of ART. Indeed, his relative importance to the world that he left behind does not lie in the fact of his collection being kept in the way he envisaged – but in the fact that the works he collected can now be viewed by all and sundry.

    Who cares if some people don’t appreciate his efforts in the way he would’ve liked? I think we all experience this and we learn to accept it. Surely it’s more important to display the works themselves – so we can all decide what relevance they have for each of us!

    Though many have tried, no-one – not even Albert C Barnes – has ever stopped the world at a particular point and successfully declared “it shall be thus forever more”!

  28. Douglas: Not sure “corporate takeover” quite describes it, since the art isn’t changing ownership. Nobody’s “acquired” the paintings at all. They still belong to the Barnes Foundation. And sure, the board could have raised $150 million simply by auctioning off Cezanne’s Card Players. But wouldn’t that have been even worse?

    Candace: Nobody at all is arguing this wasn’t about money. The money issue was that the Barnes Foundation was out of it and that the Foundation couldn’t go on in Merion without it. Neither the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania nor the City of Philadelphia nor any philanthropists were willing to pony up all that money just to keep the Barnes in Merion – and who could blame them? It wasn’t the politicians’ responsibility to ensure that the collection was kept in Merion the way Barnes wanted it.


  29. @ Candace Bowen

    Is this not a simple question of ownership? Barnes bought the paintings. He owned them. He clearly stipulated in his will his intentions for the entire collection. If I bought a painting tomorrow and you decide it is a masterpiece, am I obliged to let you look at it?

    The collection became very very valuable, and for these people who moved it, it’s about money, not art.

    By the way, everyone could have enoyed it, and did as Barnes had it open to public reservation several days a week. And gee, that was OK at the time when his collection was considered “degenerate” and worthless by art critics.

    The move happened because of money, it’s not hard to see.

  30. Mixed feelings about the process of moving the Barnes collection.

    While the art will be open to millions of people the fact is the will of of the OWNER has been violated.

    The argument that the collection was in danger doesn’t wash. A foundation that controls a 25-35 billion dollars worth of art and can’t finance 150 million to renovate the building and preserve the integrity of the foundation is laughable!

    Two percent of Americans control eighty percent of our wealth. This is more like an example of a corporate takeover than a theft but, the results are the same.

    I plan a trip to Philadelphia in a couple of weeks when the BARNES collection will not be available for viewing .

    If I could view them it would be bittersweet knowing how they were acquired.

  31. After much litigation, the Barnes collection is finally moving to new quarters in Philadelphia, where the world will at last have unfettered access to some of the greatest masterpieces of the 20th-century. Contrary to what detractors say, this is absolutely the best thing that could happen, both for the near-bankrupt foundation, and for Philadelphia as a cultural center. When people see the collection in its new home, I believe that whatever bad feeling survives about the move will fade away. And if anything, Dr. Barnes will be more honored than ever for his astute judgment in buying art. Although he famously resented the Philadelphia establishment, it now embraces his legacy.

    But what to do with his vacant Beaux-Arts mansion/museum, designed in 1922 by architect Paul Cret, together with its arboretum? Could there be more splendid quarters for some library, historical society — or even gallery?

  32. A sad day indeed for those who are against the new bolsheviks / Nazis taking the art in the collectives name. spitting on the grave of a humble guy who had wishes for what he saw that the socialist elite class missed until decades later. The Rothschild’s Reich of modern times today still eventually control anything deemed as cultural or of artistic (not to mention Real value 28Billion) through centrally planned eminent domain or condemnation of private property and any models in which these things were created or preserved. Next they will burn the books, and confiscate any works by the old masters, especially when banning nudity is in vogue. They start with the formation of a 501-3C, lawyer up and then you can steal or destroy any private enterprise with or with out public objections. I would be happy to hear someone has RE-stolen the museum works of these precious artists as they are stolen property as of now until replaced to the rightful location built specifically and hung impeccably for them. No instead they created another modernist tasteless inspired prison building for the works. I always hated museums for the fact you can’t buy anything you like so what is point of going unless it is raining or a snow storm and you have no appointment anyway? The thieves who perpetuated this fraud are in fact just that due to the fact they never spend any of their money or labor to hunt for and collect to accrue such things of value instead they form a committee so as to steal property in broad daylight with the help of the courts to give the crime some sense of legitimacy. We Exploit and rob artisans, creators and/or good stewards through socialism more than any greedy capitalist ever would. Due to his or her having a conscience or experience of actually having done something. No one of us is as dumb as all of us when you assemble such a cabal of worthless trust fund Ne’er-do-wells as these greedy thieves have proven to be. As for Annenberg’s obsession I shall visit his tomb and have a masterpiece left for him by my dog in his stinking selfish dishonor. The will of the private property owner has been trampled by the self righteous rich socialists with the help of their rat like cousins the lawyers. All to turn a profit for the State and the attorneys with a few bragging rights at fundraisers by the Cabalists. I would not put it past them to loose one or two small insignificant works in the move as I saw happen in Havana Cuba after Fidel took control. May these traitors rot in hell if there is one. I wish them all the plight of destitution in their old age as it is beyond them to understand a true “legacy” in the purist American form as they drink Merlot and waltz the museum during the private viewings after board meetings or “Special” events. While us rabble will rustle through amongst busloads of bratty disinterested socialized public educated children who care more about the latest rap song and video game. Shame on the progressive Statists! These are the same people who ran with The Madoff’s and other Elite trash who use ego and pseudo sophistication to pass themselves off as art connoisseurs when in reality they are nothing but a band of high brow thieves and wanna-be’s. I think we need to look hard at the board membership when the working people of this nation march against the Country club thieves who have helped themselves in the name of us for far too long. I was a good friend of a Barnes who had a lesser collection and he was sick by the actions of this group. He left it all to family and friends so no one will ever see much and it is Verboten for works to go out on loan to a gallery or museum due to this fiasco for fear another generation of looters will desire those images he collected so diligently.

  33. That is not true there was plenty of money through the state and they knew about it when they took it to court. SHAME SHAME SHAME on those people including Rendall ,PEW foundation, Perelman and all the others who pushed their will for power and money not for the right of a man to have his will upheld in the court of law.

  34. Please read “Dr. Barnes of Merion” by Henry Hart published in 1963 by Farrar, Strauss and Giroux (if you can find a copy) to lay to answer some of the very typical questions and reactions to Albert Barnes and the information in “The Art of the Steal” that are contained in this post and in some of the comments. Barnes DID leave the Foundation well enough endowed to carry on the Foundation as HE had wanted. The Foundation was NOT to become a museum as we know of it, requiring the resources that a museum requires… it was to remain an educational institution with public access only several days a week. Remember his art was considered “insane” and “degenerate” by the Philadelphia’s art critics at the time he was setting up his trust. According to Hart, he attempted to give his collection to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, to the University of Pennsylvania, and others with the the stipulation that the recipient would continue the education program. No one took him up on his offer! He finally settled on Lincoln, but after a year of close interaction with them, resolved to designate yet another heir. He then died in a car accident before that happened. How different the history of this might have been had he changed his will in time.
    Fast forward to recent times and we see the collection becoming far more popular and thus valuable. The management of the Foundation proceeded to run its finances into the ground (on purpose one wonders given Walter Annenberg’s lifelong desire to see the paintings in Merion broken up?), and picked expensive legal fights with its neighbors leaving donors positively COLD about donating any cash to set it aright. WHY didn’t they then just remove the existing management and proceed from there… honoring Barnes’ wishes?
    By now the sharks were circling this embattled $25 BILLION world famous collection and the really BIG idea was circulated about moving the Barnes to the Parkway in Philadelphia, 4.5 miles from Merion. Think of the revenue with all the increased tourist throughput! The politicians and the charitable organizations, who then moved to consolidate their efforts to bring the Move to closure must have known NOTHING of the Barnes legacy, the very important ideas that are embedded in the contiguous Barnes in Merion. THOSE ideas are not eccentric at all. Barnes’ program synthesizes John Dewey’s American Pragmatist philosophy with the knowledge that painters have about their craft, but rarely talk about except among themselves. I hardly think you can call John Dewey’s philosophy, “eccentric” as the current American education system takes largely from his ideas.
    Bottom line… we are losing a piece of American history here! The Barnes Foundation in Merion is eligible for National Landmark status ONLY if it remains in Merion. One wonders why some other use cannot be found for that new building on the Parkway.

  35. My point of view is: that Art comes from people and it is made for People.Money from how ever it comes from ,is not to combine with a much greater thing then Art itself. Renoir, Van Goth and all other Artists did not create such Pieces for one wealthy person who is able to buy it. What about all the other people who have not the money should they be the educational losers? Dr. Barnes disliked the Stuck up art scene. Of course, but besides them, millions of People should have to a right to see the worlds greatest treasures.
    Sorry for my not so good English . Watched yesterday the the movie ” Steel of Art ” After a long day thinking about it, these is my conclusion.

  36. Regardless of whether Dr. Barnes was wise or not in his direction of who should manage the Trust, the provisions of his estate specifically stated that the artwork should remain where it is currently.
    This is strictly an economic issue and many are to gain (mostly the City of Philadelphia and the PMA) from moving the Barnes into Philadelphia. What will not be gained and in fact lost forever is seeing these works of art in an instructional setting in the suburbs. All those who are said to care so much for these works should have put their money where their mouth was by helping to re-establish a secure financial future for The Barnes Foundation right where it was. But I guess that would be true philanthropy, not headline grabbing and naming rights. Our loss.

  37. I just saw The Art of the Steal and completely agree. If Barnes wanted to control the collection from the grave he made a lot of stupid decisions. But equally aggravating (apart from the ridiculous crack about right-wingers early in the film when the fight appears to be among wealthy liberal Democrats) is this little group of self-styled superior art lovers who saw the collection as their private preserve and actually expected taxpayer funds to keep it so. In some ways it reminded me of the fight over wider access to the Dead Sea Scrolls – a little group that can’t do the job but wants to retain control nonetheless and the greater good be damned. It’s art. Everyone should be able to enjoy it.

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