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The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

Barnes Foundation partnership

The Barnes Foundation filed a petition to the Philadelphia Orphans’ Court on Nov. 3 requesting court approval to create an educational affiliation with St. Joe’s.

The mission of the Barnes Foundation is to encourage “the advancement of education and the appreciation of the fine arts and horticulture.” The university feels a partnership with this foundation would help further the educational opportunities for St. Joe’s students.

“The proposed affiliation between the Barnes and SJU would further the common educational missions of both institutions, allow the use of the Gallery building by SJU for its ne arts program, enhance the Barnes’ existing horticulture education program with SJU’s educational resources, and broaden the educational experience for Barnes and SJU students,” Mark C. Reed Ed.D., university president, said in an email correspondence.

The Barnes Foundation archives building located in Merion which previously held Dr. Albert C. Barnes’ vast art collection. (Photo by Luke Malanga ’20).

The Barnes Foundation is named after its founder, Dr. Albert C. Barnes, who collected paintings. His collection grew to include Renoir, Cézanne, Matisse, Van Gogh and Picasso.

His collection was opened to the public in 1961, 10 years after his death. However, zoning laws began to interfere with keeping up funds to take care of the collection and the property it was on. Based on this, Philadelphia courts allowed the collection to move to a museum in the city, where it remains today.

Nancy Herman, an artist and member of the former Friends of the Barnes group, was a strong advocate for keeping The Barnes in Merion.

“I thought it was such a magical place,” Herman said. “ There is no comparing the difference between getting off the train at Merion station or the bus, walking up the street with the big old trees and the houses and walking into the beautiful gardens; you’re already in the mood to appreciate art, you’re in a state of awe to a certain extent. Then you got there and the paintings were just magnificent and they were all in somebody’s house.”

The Barnes Foundation greenhouse in Merion behind St. Joe’s campus (Photo by Luke Malanga ’20).

The Barnes property in Merion now houses the institution’s archives, its arboretum and the horticulture program.

“This was a total thing, the arboretum reflected the paintings, the painting reflected the arboretum,” Herman said. “And it was a treasure, the biggest treasure that we had certainly in Merion.”

The horticulture certificate program is a three year certificate program where students learn about the art of cultivating and managing a garden.

This program is something St. Joe’s will add as a minor if the petition led at the Orphans’ Court is approved and the university and the Barnes Foundation are able to become partners.

Arboretum of the Barnes Foundation (Photo by Franki Rudnesky ’18).

This decision could be a good opportunity for the university and The Barnes to become affiliated with one another if used the right way, explained Herman.

“If they use the Barnes as a resource, it should be a wonderful thing for St. Joe’s,” Herman said. “I’m hoping the building would be used — it should be used. It shouldn’t be just sitting there empty, that’s a shame. If there were students that would appreciate the arboretum, that would be great.”

Update: The article that was originally published said the petition that was filed was filed on Oct. 3. The petition was actually filed on Nov. 3. This has been changed with the correct date in the article.

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