Last Chance in Merion

For years I’ve been writing that this may be the very last chance to see the Barnes Foundation collection in its original home in Merion, Pa., but it looks like this is really really that last chance. The Foundation’s website says it will move to Benjamin Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia in 2012. Tonight, I started thinking about all that great art that will be on the Parkway.

Construction started in the fall and is expected to be complete at the end of this year. The two-story, 93,000-square-foot building, with an additional level below grade, will house the Foundation’s collection of Impressionist, Post-Impressionist and early Modern paintings, African sculpture, Pennsylvania Dutch decorative arts, and other important works. The collection will be displayed in 12,000 square feet of exhibition space that replicates the scale, proportion and configuration of the original galleries in Merion. The galleries will include a classroom on each floor to facilitate teaching, as well as an internal garden. In addition, vastly improved lighting will enable visitors to see the art in a more natural setting.

Read more about Albert C. Barnes and the Foundation he started here.

This entry was posted in Abstract art, African art, Architecture, Artifacts & Antiques, Collecting, Museum exhibits, Philadelphia, Sculpture and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Last Chance in Merion

  1. O, Ilene, I wish I could rejoice with you in this stunning disregard of Dr. Barnes’ will.

    Dr. Barnes never wanted one item moved, not even a candle in a candlestick. The fun of being at the Barnes was seeing what images in the paintings were echoed by items, colors, or other nearby factors. My daughters taught me that game as young girls.

    How can we trust those who sent his art on tour to ‘respect the configuration’?

    Dr. Barnes never wanted to see that collection elsewhere. Do I?

    Yes, he was a curmudgeon.

    Yes, he gave Matisse the wrong dimensions for The Dance and Henri had to do it all over to make it fit, logistically and artistically.

    Yes, the first time my husband Werner and I visited, with Friends of the Art Museum (Princeton – only we would say ‘the’), we had to have pseudonyms. Dr. Barnes wanted his art to be for ordinary people, and no one famous was welcome. (Many on our bus were indeed famous, tho not Werner and I.) I believe he would never let James Michener in, although I hope JM used the pen-name ruse, himself.

    I find it ghastly that the school he trusted broke his will, sending that art on tour, that art that was never to be moved. What a precedent was set. Is anyone’s will safe?

    Now Dr. Barnes’ treasures will be near the Museum whose policies he so disdained in his lifetime.

    Yes, there are too many Renoirs. But, o, the joy of all that Navajo jewelry, and the wrought iron masterpieces of the Pennsylvania Dutch, next to Titian and Toulouse-Lautrec and Marsden Hartley.

    I want to be delighted. I seriously mistrust this move.


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