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A dead man can’t complain

barnes-foundation.jpgIt’s hard to say that anyone is more influential on a person than their parents, but I had a professor and friend in undergrad who comes mighty damn close. I think she’s the single smartest person I’ve ever met. Not book smart — though she was — as much as she just gets things. She’s funny and insightful and well-rounded and I’ve always said if she were a couple decades younger, I would try to, as my grandparents might say, court her.

Anyway, I took a class of hers senior year called “Art, Gender and Ritual” — the kind of shit I never would’ve cared about in college, or probably even now, but for her. And as a result of that class, I learned about the Barnes Foundation, an absolutely fantastic little art institute/museum on the outskirts of Philly. Really cool place. And since the mid-90’s, it’s been involved in a major legal mess. This is because the founder, Albert Barnes (in whose house the institute now resides) set up a detailed trust about how shit would be handled after he died, including that they couldn’t change things around, they had to severely limit admissions, they couldn’t lend out the exhibits or take them on tour, etc.

It’s a fascinating story that is ever-ongoing (Art Held Hostage is an excellent book about the trial and tribulations, through 2003), and I was reminded of it earlier this week thanks to an update post over at the Wills, Trust & Estates Prof Blog, written in light of the most recent judicial opinion. Sadly, it seems that things are moving forward with plans to move the foundation to downtown Philly, around the Philly Art Museum. Great for tourism, great for meaning that more folks will get to see the Foundation and its art, but sad because it’s so against what Barnes wanted and what he stood for from an art and aesthetic perspective.

All of which is to say, if you’re ever in Philly and can get yourself to the Barnes Foundation (even if it has to be at its eventual new home on the Ben Franklin Parkway), do it.

| Comments (2)


Ruth is my hero!!!

That sucks, I went to the Barnes Foundation when I was at my little hippie high school and loved it. Moving it takes away from the intimate way in which we get the view the art. Ew, I sound like a weirdo, but it's true.