Museum to screen ‘Art of the Steal’ for Third Thursday Late Night program

AUBURN – The Jule Collins Smith Museum will screen a documentary about a controversy in the art world, “The Art of the Steal,” as part of its Third Thursday Late Night event on Nov. 18, at 5 p.m.

Dr. Albert C. Barnes, born in 1872, made his fortune in business but was primarily an educator and art collector who acquired some of the world’s greatest examples of Impressionist, Post-Impressionist and early Modernist paintings.

In 1922, Dr. Albert C. Barnes formed the Barnes Foundation, an institution in the suburbs of Philadelphia, around his priceless collection of late nineteenth and early twentieth century art. The collection is said to contain 181 Renoirs, 69 C├ęzannes, 59 Matisses and 46 Picassos, along with countless other pieces, and to have a value of more than $25 billion.

Now, more than 50 years after Barnes’ death, a powerful group of moneyed interests have gone to court for control of the art and intend to bring it to a new museum in Philadelphia. Standing in their way is a group of Barnes’ former students and his will, which contains strict instructions stating the foundation should always be an educational institution and that the paintings may never be removed.

“The Art of the Steal” traces the decades-long controversy over the museum’s fortunes and its eventual decision to abandon its longtime home for new quarters in downtown Philadelphia.

The Jule Collins Smith Museum is open until 8 p.m. for Third Thursday Late Night events. The event is free and open to the public and guests can tour the galleries. For more information, go to or call (334) 844-1484.

(Contributed by Colleen Bourdeau.)

Contact: Colleen Bourdeau, (334) 844-7075 (, or
Mike Clardy, (334) 844-9999 (