Barnes Foundation
educational art and horticultural non-profit based in Pennsylvania



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Barnes Foundation
educational art and horticultural non-profit based in Pennsylvania
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2025 Benjamin Franklin Parkway
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
United States

More about Barnes Foundation

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Wealthy curmudgeon Albert Barnes spent his lonely life cultivating a massive, labyrinthian, and literally wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling collection of art.

Because he sold his profitable pharmaceuticals company right before the stock market tanked in 1929, Barnes coasted through the Depression snatching up masterpieces that less fortunate souls had to sell to put food on their tables. Charitable? No. Effective? Yep.


Barnes used his trappings to start an art academy in the sleepy, bougie outskirts of Philadelphia. Plopping his collection down in a secluded location was strategic—a classic control freak, Barnes intended for the academy to facilitate art appreciation on his terms. Which meant would not be open to the common folk.


When the collection moved from Merion, PA to the new, modern location in Philly in 2012, factions arose. Supporters of the move wanted to make this fantastic collection of super-famous art more accessible to the average Joe. Haters argued that Barnes’s angry ghost would seek vengeance if his collection was not kept hidden in the suburbs for all eternity.


The revolutionaries won, and the new location, with its crammed walls, is a marvelous testament to a rich, brilliant, and misanthropic art hoarder.


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Here is what Wikipedia says about Barnes Foundation

The Barnes Foundation is an art collection and educational institution promoting the appreciation of art and horticulture. Originally in Merion, the art collection moved in 2012 to a new building on Benjamin Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The arboretum of the Barnes Foundation remains in Merion, where it has been proposed to be maintained under a long-term educational affiliation agreement with Saint Joseph's University.

The Barnes was founded in 1922 by Albert C. Barnes, who made his fortune by co-developing Argyrol, an antiseptic silver compound that was used to combat gonorrhea and inflammations of the eye, ear, nose, and throat. He sold his business, the A.C. Barnes Company, just months before the stock market crash of 1929.

Today, the foundation owns more than 4,000 objects, including over 900 paintings, estimated to be worth about $25 billion. These are primarily works by Impressionist, Post-Impressionist, and Modernist masters, but the collection also includes many other paintings by leading European and American artists, as well as African art, antiquities from China, Egypt, and Greece, and Native American art.

In the 1990s, the Foundation's declining finances led its leaders to various controversial moves, including sending artworks on a world tour and proposing to move the collection to Philadelphia. After numerous court challenges, the new Barnes building opened on Benjamin Franklin Parkway on May 19, 2012. The foundation's current president and executive director, Thomas “Thom” Collins, was appointed on January 7, 2015.

Check out the full Wikipedia article about Barnes Foundation.