Tired of the Barnes saga? Read about the Terra

barnesphotoVictor Cassidy’s feature at artnet about the closing (in 2004) of Chicago’s Terra Museum of American Art gave me momentary pause. Substitute the word “Barnes” for “Terra” and you get a scary read.


Of course in most respects, Terra is not at all like Barnes. The Terra is a Museum. The Barnes is not — it’s first and foremost a teaching collection. Terra doesn’t have a blockbuster collection. Barnes does. Its collection is valued above $25 million.

So here’s what’s similar. Terra’s founder, Daniel J. Terra, was a cantankerous millionaire who battled with Chicago’s art establishment. And over time the institution became mired in litigation; forgotten as an art destination; and now, due to lack of money, it’s closing. And there’s the echo. (image, top is Albert Barnes, image left is Daniel Terra)