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Barnes, Barnes, Barnes in three places


[Note: I was in Rosenwald Wolf Gallery looking at the Creative Consumption exhibit (more on that later) when Gallery Director and artblog contributor Sid Sachs told me he had the perfect solution for the Barnes Foundation. (For Barnes reservations, by the way, read this. 45-60 days advance reservation required for May)

Here’s Sachs’ proposal, which, I think, is pretty great. Bold emphasis is mine.]

Sid Sachs’ proposal for the Barnes

1. First, bring the collection downtown to the Parkway. More people will be able to see it without restrictions. The collection gets retrofitted so it’s shown just the way it is now (In other words the same formal wall arrangements, being careful to achieve the complete Barnes ambiance—including those lunettes to house the Matisse murals). Include an auditorium and space for contemporary programming in the building. That could also generate its own interest and funding sources. (image left is Van Gogh’s “Nude Woman, Reclining, 1887, in Room XIII of the Barnes)


That is what has been been done with other historic collections such as the Kroller Muller, the Isabella Stewart Gardener Museum etc. . Have Pew, Lenfast , and other foundations pay for the move and increase the endowment. More educational activities and programming will assauge the students who insist the Barnes is an educational institution. More museums on the parkway it will provide a critical cultural mass, a destination, and generate money. That will make the Philadelphia community happy.

2. Kerfeal goes to Merion. (In other words, move what’s stored at Kerfeal to the Merion buildings.) The Barnes is already climate controlled so all those objects will benefit from it. New formal relationships can be generated and new narratives created for the educational component of the foundation. Since this work has never been seen, even those who know the Barnes will come to see this new development.


That gives the Barnes two revenue sites and if the mission is education, you now have two education sites. Build the City Ave. entryway which will help get visitors in and out without disturbing the Latches Lane neighbors. Keep the Arboretum in all its glory. (image is honey from the Barnes arboretum. $7.25 — order online) This keeps the Merion neighbors — who now seem to want Barnes in their neighborhood — happy.–Also, the PMA or other institutions could loan some modernist works Picassos, etc. that they don’t have space to exhibit and that compliment the Barnes esthetic at a Merion Kerfeal/Barnes space, giving them the ability to interact with the Barnes, which they say they want.

3. Sell the Kerfeal, Chester County land and buildings to the state and/or county. That way you maintain the land as open space (prevent more development) and wind up with a building to use for administrative offices, foundation archives, and or cultural and heritage space. Ten million dollars will pay for the improved access to the Merion site.

4. This proposal is a win /win situation for all involved. No bankruptcy results, no sales of art works are required, more people see all the collection, more people are educated, and the institution grows and is made more stable by a larger board and the generation of new revenues. (I thought it ironic that Peter Schjedahl thought the Barnes was a gem that shouldn’t move yet he had never visited the collection until recently. Do we need outside interference in community issues?) –Sid Sachs

–images from Barnes Foundation website