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Mark Lamster

The New Barnes: Triumph or Travesty?


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There's been no more contentious subject in the art world over the last decade than the status of the Barnes Foundation and its decision to forsake its suburban home for a new museum on Philly's Benjamin Franklin Parkway. The controversy is the subject of a new film by Don Argott, The Art of the Steal, which I review in the latest issue of the Architect's Newspaper. I'm admittedly somewhat agnostic on the fate of the Barnes, though I think Argott is a rather poor man's Michael Moore. (Irony, given Barnes's wealth.) I think my attitude reflects a general feeling of my peer group in the museum world. When I asked a curator friend what she thought of the situation, her bemused response was: "Barnes was a mean old bastard and cursed the whole place for all eternity?" The cursed place will soon have a new home designed by Tod Williams and Billie Tsien [above]. So, as I write in the story, not exactly a tragic ending.

Posted in: Architecture

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