Barnes Foundation Galleries

      fine art museum and educational facility located in Merion, Pa., noted for its extensive collection of French Impressionist (Impressionism) and Post-Impressionist (Post-Impressionism) paintings.

      The museum was founded in 1922 by Albert C. Barnes (Barnes, Albert C.), a physician who made a fortune developing the antiseptic Argyrol. Barnes hired the prominent French architect Paul Philippe Cret (Cret, Paul Phillippe) to design the galleries, which were constructed in a 12-acre (4.9-hectare) arboretum in Merion, just outside Philadelphia. The facilities were completed and opened to the public in 1925. Upon selling his pharmaceutical company in 1929, Barnes dedicated himself to collecting art and furthering his foundation. By the time of his death in 1951, he had amassed one of the world's largest collections of Impressionist, Post-Impressionist, and early Modernist paintings. The collection includes a large number of works by celebrated masters, including 181 paintings by Pierre-Auguste Renoir (Renoir, Pierre-Auguste), 69 by Paul Cézanne (Cézanne, Paul), and 59 by Henri Matisse (Matisse, Henri), as well as multiple paintings by Pablo Picasso (Picasso, Pablo), Chaim Soutine (Soutine, Chaim), Amadeo Modigliani (Modigliani, Amedeo), Henri Rousseau (Rousseau, Henri), Edgar Degas (Degas, Edgar), Vincent van Gogh (Gogh, Vincent van), Georges Seurat (Seurat, Georges), Édouard Manet (Manet, Édouard), and Claude Monet (Monet, Claude). In addition to 19th- and 20th-century European paintings, the galleries include Native American, African, and American artifacts and works. Since its inception, the foundation has made its collection available to the public but with limited access so that the facility could serve its dual role as a school.

      Since Barnes's death the museum has been operated by a board of trustees. In the 1990s, controversy surrounded the board as a number of financial irregularities came to light. The foundation neared bankruptcy at a time when the galleries were in much need of repair. The Barnes Foundation gained court approval to relocate the collection from its historical home to a new site in Philadelphia.

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Universalium. 2010.

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