In anticipation of what turned out to be a very long day took our time in the morning. The hotel was just steps away from both the Rodin and Barnes Museums.
The Rodin Museum
We started with the Rodin. First opened in 1927 the museum was a gift to the city from a local boy made his money in Movie Theaters. The small Beaux-Arts building with a formal French garden was designed specifically to house Rodin sculpture.
The elegant intimate setting is perfect for its purpose. The fact that admission to the Rodin is included in your admission to the Philadelphia Museum of Art makes it even more enjoyable.
The Barnes Foundation Museum
The new Barnes Foundation Museum was just across the street.
Since the Museum is new they are still issuing timed tickets. Our tickets were for 3 pm so we started our time there with lunch in their café then in an exhibit explaining the history of the Barnes Foundation.
Here’s the short version of the saga of the Barnes Collection. Barnes, a chemist, made a lot of money with a pharmaceutical product named Argyrol. He was good friends with the artist William Glackens who went to Paris and bought some of “new” French impressionist art for Barnes. Barnes then proceeds to make many art buying trips and along the way becomes friends wit Leo Stein (Gertrude’s brother) and Matisse, Cezanne, Renoir, and the list goes on. He then returns to Philadelphia and displays his collection at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art where the reviews are scathing. Deeply hurt he takes his collection back to Marion and says that he will have his own museum rather than giving it to the people of Philadelphia. He sets up a foundation that includes a school for artists and restricts access to the collection to art students. He dies with strong legal measures in place to make sure his collection stays as he left it in perpetuity.
Then the fun begins, with the only winners being the lawyers. Years of legal wrangling happen until, through a series of compromises and intrigue, the original restrictions to accessing the collection are broken. Here is the trailer of a documentary titled "The Art of the Steal" which can be seen on demand from Netflix.
It still takes your breath away. It is one world’s finest collections of impressionist, post-impressionist and early modern paintings.
We're taking large numbers of very famous and familiar paintings:
- 181 by Renoir,
- 67 by Cézanne,
- 59 by Matisse,
- 18 by Picasso,
The museum does need to work on the heavy-handedness of their security staff who are hopelessly trying to enforce inappropriate draconian rules and regulations. The security organization needs to take a trip to the Guggenheim Museum in New York to understand how you can create a pleasant experience for the visitor and still protect the paintings. The New Barnes also needs to learn to design their auxiliary exhibits so that the public can actually read the picture captions without leaning on the glass exhibits cases which, of course, freaks out the security staff.
Even with these annoyances, it was a breathtaking experience to visit this museum -- and a proper ending to our amazing 56 day trip!
Scenes of the Barnes Taken Superstitiously with My iPhone
Lexington, Home Sweet Home
Home again, home again, jiggity jig.