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Barnes Foundation

If you want to visit Barnes in Philadelphia, it would be useful for you to know the man behind the name first. The museum is named after Albert Barnes. And one the most important things that you need to know about Albert is that he has lived a colorful life. And most of the artworks that you can find in the museum are his. He was able to collect a large number of artworks throughout his lifetime. He actually came from a working class family in Philadelphia. Then he became a doctor and was able to make quite a fortune.

Albert loved art. So he spent his fortune buying and collecting art. It also helped that some of his closest friends are artists. He is friends with Renoir, Cezanne, Matisse, and Picasso. But these famous artists were just starting their careers back then. He was described as a bit of an eccentric. Many have compared his accumulation of art to what hoarders do. The only difference is that the objects he hoards are actually valuable. Apart from art, he also had many dogs. Yes, if he wasn’t rich maybe people would call him crazy. He is a very interesting man to say the least and the museum and art he left behind are interesting as well.

Albert also had many ideas about art. He believed that it was necessary to educate impoverished people so they can get out of their predicament. But some of his ideas are rather crazy. He put all of his collection in an old damp house that is situated right beside his home. In his last will, he stipulated that his collection will not be removed from the old house. Because of his odd behavior, he became quite famous in the art circle of his time. But if you’re expecting that the museum will reflect his weirdness, you’ll be disappointed. Still, the Barnes Museum is unique. It’s not as organized as other museums. But it is still not something that you would expect from a man who is as weird as Albert.

The place is actually beautiful. The exterior alone is quite majestic in its appearance. But wait until you enter the museum. It’s too bad, however, that you can’t take photos of the interior of the museum. When you search the Internet though you’ll see photos of the museum taken by bloggers who took hidden shots. Take shots if you dare. But don’t say that you haven’t been warned. If you want to stay on the safe side, then the best thing to do is to just take mental pictures of the place. Or just be zen about it and be in the moment.

Albert died in the early 1950s. But before he breathed his last, he left his art collection and the house where it was stored to the local university instead of donating it to the Philadelphia Museum of Art. This is because he was not a fan of the institution. Also, he donated it to the university because he wanted students to have it in his collection so they can study them. According to his will, his collection is not to be removed from the university. The school cannot even loan any of the artwork out. Albert also said in his will that the museum can only be open to the public for two days a week.

But the Barnes Foundation did challenge Albert’s will. They were losing money in the 90s and the museum needed some serious repairs. So they loaned out some of the paintings to other collectors. They challenged the will a second time when they moved the collection to a newer building. Understandably, the move was met with controversy. After all, they were going against the final wishes of a dead man. But the move was out of necessity. The collection was not safe in the museum. It was necessary to move them if they could get destroyed. It was estimated the entire collection is now worth 25 billion dollars.

Keep this story in mind when you do visit Barnes Museum. It’s a story that is just as interesting as the museum and the artworks housed inside. Then think of the man who made it all possible.

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