The New York Times profiles the museum architects Billie Tsieh and Todd Williams fingering their decision to re-create, not replicate, the interior of the Barnes Foundation in Merion. For those who consider it a crime that the foundation is being moved to a more accessible location, the idea that Barnes’s vision might be altered in any way ought to provoke storms of outrage.
Why they’re not outraged that the art is imprisoned in Barnes’s matrix is another matter entirely. Here’s the Times on the changes Tsieh and Williams made:
In Merion, the galleries flow from one to another, meaning visitors can see not only items in the room they are in, but items in adjacent spaces.
Mr. Williams and Ms. Tsien had no problem installing the new galleries in the same sequence. But they decided to “open up” the new building, by inserting a reading room, a classroom and a sunken garden court into the procession of small spaces. That means that, in some cases, the rooms won’t open directly into one another, as in the existing museum.
During a recent interview, Ms. Tsien said they worked to make sure those new rooms wouldn’t be jarring to visitors. “They were meant to be a gentle breath; we don’t want them to be a hurricane,” she said.
As for the galleries themselves, Mr. Williams said that they considered trying to enlarge them, even by just a few inches, to make them feel more spacious.
But the paintings can’t change size, Mr. Williams noted. “So if we enlarged the rooms, the relationships between the paintings” — the relationship that Albert Barnes was focused on — “would start to fall apart,” he said.
For the New Barnes, Everything Old is Old Again (New York Times)