December 03, 2007
The Barnes Foundation
Posted by Jennifer O'Hare

I'm embarrassed to admit that I lived in the Philly area for six years before I finally visited the The Barnes Foundation.  As the official website says, the Barnes Foundation holds one of the world's finest private collections of Impressionist, Post-Impressionist and early-Modernist paintings.  There are literally dozens of masterpieces by Renoir, Cezanne, Matisse, and Picasso.  The paintings, by themselves, are amazing, but equally intriguing is the unique way in which the paintings are displayed.  You probably won't see anything like this in any other museum:


Kind of wild, right?  These "ensembles" were created by Dr. Barnes as an educational technique.

More recently, the Barnes foundation has gotten fair amount of press because it looks like the collection will be moving from Merion, PA (a suburb of Philadelphia) into Philadelphia itself.  This decision is controversial because it contradicts the express terms of Dr. Barnes's trust, which states that the collection must remain in its original gallery in Merion.  The Barnes Foundation trustees were able to break the trust, citing financial necessity.

You trust lawyers out there will probably find the details of the case interesting, and you can read about some of them in this article from the New York Times.  As you'll see, the story is even more interesting because apparently there's lots of juicy local, Philly, and state politics going on. 

Right now, it looks as if the Barnes collection will be moving into their new digs sometime in 2009, so if you happen to be in the Philadelphia area any time soon, you might want to make a point to visit the Barnes in its original location.

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