The Barnes Foundation, a cultural institution based in Lower Merion, Pa., has announced an international search for an architect to design a new 120,000-square-foot museum building in central Philadelphia. Martha Thorne, executive director of the Pritzker Architecture Prize and former curator at the Art Institute of Chicago, is leading the search.
The Barnes owns one of the world's pre-eminent collections of African art and Impressionist, Post-Impressionist, and early Modernist paintings, including 46 works by Picasso, 69 by Cezanne, and 181 by Renoir. The collection was assembled by Albert C. Barnes, a medical doctor, who commissioned architect Paul Philippe Cret to design a gallery and adjacent residence on a 12-acre property in Lower Merion.
Barnes, who died in 1951, created a trust for the maintenance of his estate, stipulating that the artworks remain in Lower Merion in perpetuity and limiting public access to two days a week. In 2004, the Barnes Foundation won a legal battle to break the terms of Barnes' trust. The new facility is intended to promote greater public access to the collection.