Wednesday, March 19, 2003
The Barnes Fails While Peers Thrive: Millionaire art collectors Albert C. Barnes, Isabella Stewart Gardner, and Henry Clay Frick had this in common: Each formed a world-class collection that subsequently became a public museum. All three are world-renowned, and each is distinctive and compelling in a way that reflects the personality and taste of its founder. The Gardner and the Frick, established with enlightened and public-spirited philanthropy, did not have their founder trying to administer them from the grave, as the Barnes did. As donors contemplate their philanthropic legacy, this article by the Philadelphia Inquirer's art critic Edward J. Sozanski provides a cautionary tale of how good intentions went bad, resulting in disastrous consequences for the Barnes Musuem and its future.