(Photo: Albert Coombs Barnes 2 Jan 1872 – 24 Jul 1951)
5 January 2015
A few weeks ago Stacie, our friend Toni and I went to see the collection of art at The Barnes Foundation. Never have I seen a collection of such exquisite pieces, arranged with such thought and care. Dr. Barnes assembled his collection before any museum had an interest in Impressionist, Post-Impressionist and Modernist styles of art. Hence, no collection anywhere holds a candle to this one. The original home of The Barnes Foundation was in Lower Merion PA. In 1930, when Henri Matisse first visited the Foundation, he wrote in his notebook that it was the only sane place to view art in America. The collection is now housed in a beautiful new building and the architects have taken care to reproduce the rooms as closely as possible to the original home so that the pieces can be displayed with the relationships to each other that Dr. Barnes felt was so important to the viewing and learning experience.
At the time of our visit I was unaware of the story behind the movement of the Foundation from Lower Merion to Philadelphia. Watching the movie The Art of the Steal I became aware there was a very big story. Though I am thoroughly jaded where politicians and rich power brokers are concerned, I will not list here any of the facts and points made in the movie because the film is blatantly one-sided. Nevertheless, the story it tells is riveting and may be of interest to anyone who has had the privilege of visiting the Barnes Foundation. Despite my tendency to believe that altruism is simply a word in this day and age, I am thankful that with the Foundation’s move to Philadelphia, the opportunity was created for one such as me to view and experience this unique collection, put together and arranged by a remarkable man.
(Photo: Original home of The Barnes Foundation, Lower Merion PA)
(Photo: New home of The Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia PA)
Here is a link to an article with a rich description of The Barnes Foundation in its original home: