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Barnes Foundation shows off new building

May 19, 2012 at 1:04 AM   |   Comments

PHILADELPHIA, May 19 (UPI) -- The Barnes Foundation, one of the world's great modern art collections, celebrated its move to downtown Philadelphia with a gala party Friday.

But some opposition remained to the move from the site selected by Dr. Alfred Barnes in suburban Lower Merion a century ago. While patrons who had paid $5,000 a head for the privilege got a preview of the building and collection, followed by dinner and entertainment from Norah Jones, about a dozen members of Friends of the Barnes held a demonstration across the street, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

Barnes, a doctor who got rich developing an antiseptic, assembled a collection that includes 181 works by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, 69 by Paul Cezanne, 59 by Henri Matisse -- including one created specifically for a spot in the original building -- and 46 by Pablo Picasso, and that is just for starters. His foundation was designed as both a museum and a school.

But the new building got the ultimate accolade in Philadelphia, a city that often feels at a disadvantage. While the party was in progress, a front-page review in The New York Times arrived.

"Against all odds, the museum that opens to the public on Saturday is still very much the old Barnes, only better," critic Roberta Smith said.

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