Barnes Foundation building plan approved

CENTER CITY - October 7, 2009 A building plan was approved for the new site on Wednesday, which is between the Ben Franklin Parkway, Callowhill and 20th and 21st streets in Center City.

In fact, the future home of Albert Barnes' many priceless paintings is actually two buildings: One rectangular in shape, where the galleries will be. The other is an L-shaped structure for the entrance, special exhibits, and a cafe.

In the center, gardens are surrounding a fountain.

It was designed to replicate the current home of the collection, the Barnes estate in Lower Merion.

The Philadelphia Art Commission voted 8-0 to approve the design, set to be built at the site of the former Youth Studies Center along the Ben Franklin Parkway.

"It is an absolutely masterful design. Those who don't understand the design are looking at it from a selfish point of view," said Moe Brooker of the Philadelphia Art Commission.

Barnes, who died in 1951, never wanted his collections moved at all.

But the Barnes Foundation successfully argued in court that it must be moved to generate more visitors, and more money, or the foundation would collapse.

"We think it's a brilliant building, and when it's built we think not only America but the rest of the world will be thrilled with what they've done," said Barnes Foundation Director Derek Gillman.

The future site of the Barnes remains a vacant lot, now that the Youth Study Center has been demolished. Construction on the new museum could begin next month.

Asked if there was any way to prevent that first shovel from digging into the ground, the Barnes director said - flat out - no.

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