Governor Edward G. Rendell today announced a $25 million grant to help make the Barnes Foundation art collection available to the thousands of people who visit downtown Philadelphia each day. The collection will be moved from Merion, Montgomery County, to a new museum to be built on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia.
"This project will be as important to the continued development of Philadelphia's downtown as any in recent years,” Governor Rendell said. “Working together, we are helping realize Dr. Barnes' vision of making this collection available to anyone wishing to admire it.
“Philadelphia already has world famous artistic attractions, so by moving the Barnes collection to the city, we will make these brilliant Cézannes, Reniors and Matisses accessible to the thousands of people who already visit downtown Philadelphia each day.”
The Governor presented a check for $25 million from the Redevelopment Capitol Assistance Fund to Mayor John Street.
Dr. Bernard C. Watson of the Barnes Foundation Board of Trustees thanked Governor Rendell for his support on behalf of the foundation, saying the Governor helped ensure that this unique institution will continue and flourish.
“When Dr. Albert Barnes established his foundation, he was very clear about its purpose. He wanted his priceless collection to be used to promote two things – education and art appreciation – and to do so not just for the privileged, not just for the sophisticated, but for what he called ‘plain people,' the men and women who get up and go to work every day in factories and offices,” Watson said.
“The trustees of The Barnes Foundation have held faithfully to that goal. In the face of severe financial challenges, we have found a way to preserve this collection, secure and intact, as Dr. Barnes himself arranged it for teaching. We are overjoyed that the intended audience for these artworks will now find it much, much easier to reach them, and learn from them, in our new gallery on the Franklin Parkway.
“We will be forever mindful of the trust that the people of the commonwealth of Pennsylvania have placed in us through this investment. And we will be forever grateful to Governor Rendell for his commitment to the public good, his unmatched dedication to education and the arts, and the invaluable leadership and support he has now given us and our many generous friends.”
Rebecca Rimel, president and CEO of The Pew Charitable Trusts, which is spearheading Barnes' fundraising efforts along with the Annenberg Foundation and The Lenfest Foundation, said the grant is invaluable to helping reach a $150 million fundraising goal.
“Today is another banner day for Philadelphia and the commonwealth,” Rimel said. “The Barnes Foundation is a public treasure and we all share a responsibility for its stewardship. We commend Governor Rendell and the people of the commonwealth for their pledge of support to this world-class cultural institution. Today's announcement brings us one very large step closer and within reach of our goal of raising $150 million to relocate the Barnes gallery to the Benjamin Franklin Parkway and provide for a secure financial future.”
In December 2004, Montgomery County Orphans' Court Judge Stanley Ott decided to allow the Barnes Foundation to move the art collection from Merion to a new museum in downtown Philadelphia.
Dr. Albert C. Barnes established The Foundation in 1922 “to promote the advancement of education and the appreciation of fine arts ...” The Barnes Foundation holds one of the world's greatest collections of French paintings of the Impressionist, Post-Impressionist and early Modern eras –including an extraordinary number of masterpieces by Renoir, Cézanne, Seurat and Matisse.