Albert C. Barnes amassed his fortune as an inventive chemist, but it was his uncanny instinct for art that we remember him for today. In the early 20th century, Barnes selected and purchased a breathtaking array of paintings, sculptures and ironwork, including works by major artists previously unknown to the American market, and displayed them in collage-like groupings in his Pennsylvania home. His collection, now recognized as containing one of the world's finest collections of impressionist, post-impressionist and early modernist paintings, has been available for public viewing, through the Barnes Foundation since 1961.
Philadelphia-area Dickinson alumni and parents, including 30 members of the John Dickinson Society (JDS) and Old West Society (OWS), recently caught a peek of the extraordinary Barnes Foundation collection and learned how Barnes paved the way for the current American art scene. The gathering included a private tour, lunch and a talk by Associate Professor of Art History Elizabeth Lee, who provided context about the collection and shared news from Dickinson’s art department and its students.
“It was a wonderful experience, from the warm welcome by Dickinson staff to the private tour and the superb lunch and conversation,” said Serita Spadoni ’66.
“It was a pleasure to share some of my teaching experiences at the museum with such an interested group of alumni,” said Lee, who takes her Modern Art class to the Barnes Foundation every year. “I left inspired by their support for Dickinson as well as their thoughtful observations about a truly outstanding collection of modern art."
Associate Professor of Art History Elizabeth Lee discusses works from the collection with participants. Photo by Carl Socolow '77.
The John Dickinson Society and the Old West Society are two of Dickinson's oldest and most important giving societies. The John Dickinson Society recognizes the more than 800 Dickinsonians who make an annual gift of $2,500 or more to the college ($1,000 for graduates of the last 10 years and $500 for graduates of the last five). The Old West Society recognizes those individuals who have provided future support to Dickinson through their estate and/or life income plans. In appreciation for their support, the college offers each member of these societies invitations to several campus and regional events as well as special communications from college leadership.
Published February 6, 2020