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Staff Report

PHILADELPHIA, 16 May 2006—The relocation of the Barnes Foundation’s world-renowned art collection to the Benjamin Franklin Parkway took a tremendous step forward today as the Annenberg Foundation, The Lenfest Foundation and The Pew Charitable Trusts announced the completion of a $150-million dollar fundraising campaign. Sixty-five donors from across the Philadelphia region—corporations, foundations and private  citizens—pledged their support for preserving Dr. Barnes’s legacy of art appreciation and education for all. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania contributed $25 million toward the $150 million goal, and the City of Philadelphia donated the land at 21st Street and the parkway for the site of the new gallery.

Located in Lower Merion, Pennsylvania, a suburb of Philadelphia, The Barnes Foundation was established in 1922 by Dr. Albert C. Barnes (1872 - 1951), a patent-medicine millionaire  to "promote the advancement of education and the appreciation of the fine arts."  For more than eighty years, artists, teachers, historians and people from many other walks of life have enjoyed the benefits of the Foundation’s education program and its democratic mission. 

The Foundation’s collection of French paintings of the Impressionist, Post-Impressionist and early Modern eras is among the finest in the world and is noted for masterpieces by Renoir, CĂ©zanne and Matisse, which provide a depth of experience of these artists’ work that is unsurpassed. Works by Picasso, Seurat, Rousseau, Modigliani, Soutine, Monet, Manet, Degas, Van Gogh and others are also a part of the Foundation’s estimated 6-billion dollar collection.

At his death in 1951 at the age of 79, Dr. Barnes created an uproar in the fine arts community and society pages when he bequeathed the celebrated collection to Lincoln University, a well-known and historically African American institution. In addition, Barnes left strict instructions that the Foundation and its collection not be moved, nor could individual works be sold.

Since the 1990s The Barnes Foundation has been embroiled in legal disputes ranging from violations of the terms of the bequest, alleged racial discrimination to mismanagement as well as financial difficulties that eventually depleted the endowment.  No doubt local politics, power struggles and a dash of bad faith made for a volatile cocktail.

Funds raised by the expanded campaign will go toward endowment, to support the greater range of programs that will become possible at The Barnes Foundation once the gallery is relocated to the Benjamin Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia. The gallery will continue to be the site of The Barnes Foundation’s courses and workshops, which are eligible for transfer credits at more than 1,200 colleges and universities throughout the United States.

Book Tip

Art Held Hostage: The Battle over the Barnes Collection
By John Anderson
Hardcover: 288 pages
W. W. Norton & Company (May 2003)
ISBN: 0393048896

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