Today is International Museum Day, and it has a special meaning in the Philadephia region, where GSK has a significant presence (we're UK-based, and our US HQ is in North Carolina, but we have offices in Philadelphia--soon moving to the Navy Yard--and its suburbs). Today, the new home of the Barnes Foundation--an astounding collection of art--was officially dedicated. It moved from its original location just outside of Philadelphia, in Merion.
Now, this move came with a lot of controversy, because the will of founder, Dr. Albert C. Barnes, had to be broken to move it. Dr. Barnes, who made his fortune through the development of an antiseptic, was a real maverick who collected many modern works of art before others were interested. And he bought in bulk: 181 Renoirs, 69 Cézannes, 59 Matisses (is that a word?), 46 Picassos, 21 Soutines, 18 Rousseaus, 16 Modiglianis, 6 Seurats--all displayed in conversation with African sculptures, modern sculptures by the likes of Lipchitz, early American furniture, as well as decorative and functional objects.
Barnes was an interesting guy who had a very personal way of appreciating art--and started the Foundation as an educational institution to teach his approach. The educational component of the Foundation is still its primary focus, and better access to the collection is now made available to the public, while the private classes continue to this day.
And that educational focus is why GSK is proud to support the grand opening of the new home of the Barnes Foundation. Art appreciation can take many forms, and is important to society.
Personally, I think the new home is a beautiful gift to the city, the region, and the world. It won't please everyone, but some of the most important things in life--art, ideas, scientific advancement, politics, policies--spur great controversy. And out of those discussions come some of the greatest advances for society.
Let's keep talking.