Mark Lamster | Essays

The New Barnes: Triumph or Travesty?


There's been no more contentious subject in the art world over the last decade than the status of the Barnes Foundation and its decision to forsake its suburban home for a new museum on Philly's Benjamin Franklin Parkway. The controversy is the subject of a new film by Don Argott, The Art of the Steal, which I review in the latest issue of the Architect's Newspaper. I'm admittedly somewhat agnostic on the fate of the Barnes, though I think Argott is a rather poor man's Michael Moore. (Irony, given Barnes's wealth.) I think my attitude reflects a general feeling of my peer group in the museum world. When I asked a curator friend what she thought of the situation, her bemused response was: "Barnes was a mean old bastard and cursed the whole place for all eternity?" The cursed place will soon have a new home designed by Tod Williams and Billie Tsien [above]. So, as I write in the story, not exactly a tragic ending.

Posted in: Architecture

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