Essential Architecture- the North East

Barnes Foundation

architect

 

location

Philadelphia

date

 

style

Renaissance Revival

construction

Stone

type

Gallery
 
 
 
 
   
Barnes Foundation of Philadelphia
The Barnes Foundation is a museum and art school situated in Lower Merion Township, a suburb of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in the United States.

The Museum displays works of several painters, including Paul Cézanne, George de Chirico, Paul Gauguin, El Greco, Francisco Goya, Edouard Manet, Henri Matisse, Amedeo Modigliani, Claude Monet, Pablo Picasso, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Maurice Utrillo, Vincent Van Gogh.

Gallery and arboretum
The museum 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 a fine arboretum in their own right (The Arboretum of the Barnes Foundation).

History
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 artists like 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.[1] 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.[2] 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 the trustees claimed that extensive repairs needed on the aging structure required breaking some terms of the indenture, and between 1993 and 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 such as Washington, Paris, Tokyo, and Toronto.

Unfortunately, a number of financial irregularities arose. Between the renovations, 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.

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. The first limited the board of trustees to five members of which Lincoln University, PA was granted authority to name four of the five members as per Dr. Albert C. Barnes will.[3]. The second stipulated that the works in the collection must remain in perpetuity in the gallery in Lower Merion. 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. 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.[4]

Former students of The Barnes Foundation have been dismayed by the impending relocation and 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.

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. http://www.Barnesfriends.org . As a result several steps have been taken to thwart the move. The Commissioners of Lower Merion Township have unanimously passed a resolution stating that the Foundation's plans to move the collection to Philadelphia 'be forever abandoned'. Congressman Jim Gerlach will introduce legislation in the United States Congress that would impose an excise tax, in the exact same amount of any contribution used to facilitate the move of the Barnes Foundation. The result of the excise tax would thus nullify any contribution the Barnes Foundation receives for this purpose.

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.

In May 2006, the Foundation announced that it had successfully reached its $150 million fundraising 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 to be its new director and president.

The Barnes Foundation is moving ahead with its plans to move its gallery collection to the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, and on March 6th 2007, they announced that they had sent out a request for qualifications to an extensive group of leading and international architecture firms. They plan to select the architect by August 1st, 2007. Martha Thorn, Executive Director of the Pritzker Architecture prize will advise the Barnes Foundation during the selection process.

Today the Foundation possesses more than 2500 objects, including 800 paintings estimated to be worth more than $2 billion. Among its works are 180 Renoirs, 69 Cezannes, and 60 Matisses, as well as numerous Old Masters and a variety of African artworks.

References
^ Mark Jarzombek, The Psychologizing of Modernity (Cambridge University Press, p. 135. See also: Mary Ann Meyers. ‘’Art, Education, & African-American Culture : Albert Barnes and the Science of Philanthropy’’, (Transaction Publishers, 2004). and William Schack. ‘’Art and Argyrol; The Life and Career of Dr. Albert C. Barnes’’.(Yoseloff, 1960).
^ 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), v.
^ See: www.foundationcenter.org/pnd/news/story_print.jhtml?id=32300041
^ See: John Anderson. ‘’Art Held Hostage: The Battle Over The Barnes Collection’’, (W.W. Norton & Company, c2003).
4. Several articles -http://www.barnesfriends.org/files/commentary.html

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