Monday, October 18, 2010

This Artifact Belongs in a Museum

This could be the week the Macbook returns. New hard drive is being installed.

Watched an interesting documentary called The Art of the Steal over the weekend. Dr. Barnes assembled a massive collection of post-impressionist art in the early 20th century and built a home in a Philadelphia suburb to display the work. There was never any intent to house the work in a museum like atmosphere but to use the facility as a learning institution.

Barnes and the Philadelphia elite and arts community were often at odds. When Barnes died, he left no heirs. Barnes will specifically stated that the collection not be loaned, moved, or sold. The Barnes Foundation was run successfully as a school with very limited public access until the 1980's. Soon after the endowment ran out of funds and the Barnes Foundation neared bankruptcy. The years to follow brought a long struggle between Barnes' wishes and those of political and moneyed institutions who fought for the collection.

It's a rather shocking story and I have very mixed feelings about the conclusion. The collection should be preserved in the conditions of Barnes' will. But how do you fund it in this day and age without a bunch of so called do-gooders and yoo-hoos with deep pockets and political influence getting in the way?

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