The Barnes Foundation is educational art and horticultural institution with locations in Lower Merion, Pennsylvania, a suburb of Philadelphia; and Fairmount Park, Philadelphia. It was founded in 1922 by Albert C. Barnes, a chemist who collected art after making a fortune by co-developing an early anti-gonorrhea drug. He lucked out big time by selling his company in 1928, just before the stock market crash of 1929.
Today, the foundation owns more than 4,000 objects, including more than 900 paintings, estimated to be worth about $25 billion. These are primarily works by Impressionist and Modernist masters, but the collection includes many other paintings by European and American artists, as well as ancient works from other cultures.
In the 1990s, the foundation’s declining finances led its leaders to various controversial moves, including sending artworks on world tours and proposing to move the collection to Philadelphia. A 2009 documentary, The Art of the Steal, argued that the foundation had been taken over by other non-profit institutions. After numerous court challenges, the new Barnes building opened on Benjamin Franklin Parkway on May 19, 2012.
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The Barnes Foundation also offers a variety of paid classes.