Barnes Foundation Releases Open Access Images

Henri Rousseau, Woman Walking in an Exotic Forest, 1905, Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia

Henri Rousseau, Woman Walking in an Exotic Forest, 1905, Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia (Photo: Courtesy of the Barnes Foundation, Merion and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)

The Barnes Foundation has joined a growing list of museums and other institutions that are designating their public domain images as Open Access. As always, this applies only to artworks not still protected by copyright, so most 20th-century artists (most notably Matisse, in the case of the Barnes) are excluded. But images of works by many earlier artists (such as Renoir and Cézanne) in the Barnes’ collection are now free for unrestricted use.

The Papal Visit

Caradosso, Pope Julius II [obverse] and View of Saint Peter's [reverse], 1506 (photo: Courtesy National Gallery of Art, Washington)

Caradosso, Pope Julius II [obverse] and View of Saint Peter’s [reverse], 1506 (photo: Courtesy National Gallery of Art, Washington)

Let’s face it: if you live around here, you’re probably not going to be doing a lot of driving this weekend. With all the pandemonium surrounding Pope Francis’s visit to Philadelphia, many of us are either hunkering down at home or getting out of town altogether.

What better time to think about all your favorite popes in art? Of course the first pope, Saint Peter, is a key figure. During the Middle Ages, there were a bunch of popes named Gregory and Innocent and whatnot. There was a Saint Francis (who was said to have miraculously appeared to Pope Nicholas V), but until 2013 there had never been a Pope Francis. For awhile, the Papal Court even moved from Rome to southern France, and sometimes there were simply too many popes at once. At the height of the Renaissance, Julius II commissioned Michelangelo’s ceiling in the Sistine Chapel, Raphael’s Stanze frescoes, and Bramante’s design for rebuilding Saint Peter’s Basilica. He also collected ancient sculptures like the Apollo Belvedere and Laocoön, which would inspire generations of artists. But not everybody was a fan of such papal indulgence, or indulgences for that matter. Martin Luther and other reformers soon challenged the authority of the Roman Catholic Church. When the Medici Pope Clement VII refused to annul the first marriage of Henry VIII, the king essentially declared himself the pope of England. The Vatican countered with a series of strong popes in the later 16th and 17th centuries. Innocent X was the patron of the Baroque sculptor Algardi, while Alexander VII preferred Bernini. But the temporal power of the popes began to wane in the 18th century, and by the death of the Pius IX in 1878, the Vatican complex was all that remained under their control.

All of these images–and many thousands more–are now free and available for anyone to use (legally!) because they were provided by institutions that have adopted generous Open Access policies. So thank you to such museums as the J. Paul Getty Museum, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the National Gallery of Art, the Walters Art Museum, the Yale Center for British Art, and the Yale University Art Gallery, among others. I encourage everyone to reward them with a little extra Web traffic this papal weekend!

Opening of the New Barnes Foundation

This weekend the Barnes Foundation reopened in its new building on Benjamin Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia. The collection has been closed for nearly a year in order to move to Center City from its longtime home in suburban Merion, Pennsylvania (I posted a story on its closure last summer here).

Controversy is no stranger to the Barnes, never more so than in the years leading up to this relocation. Court battles continue over whether the move was even legal. For its part, the new museum building tries to recreate the experience of visiting the collection in its old home, although not everyone has been impressed with the result.

The Barnes Foundation will be open for 56 consecutive hours during the upcoming Memorial Day weekend. For more information on this and other events surrounding the opening, click here.

One Last (Virtual) Visit to the Barnes Foundation

Barnes Foundation

Barnes Foundation, Merion, Pennsylvania (image from

The Barnes Foundation just closed its longtime suburban Philadelphia home in preparation for its upcoming move to a new building in Center City. The New York Times pays tribute to the original Merion museum in a fun interactive feature that lets you take a virtual tour of several of its rooms.

You can read a related article about the Barnes Foundation here.