After years of much-publicized controversy and legal dramas, the Barnes Foundation will finally reopen May 19 in Philadelphia. And while the original Merion location, with its 12-acre arboretum, remains home to its horticultural program and archives, there’s no question that the move leaves a major cultural void on the Main Line.
That’s where R. Brent Byrne would like to think he comes in. Inspired by the legacy of Barnes, he’s opened the Leonard Nelson Gallery in Bryn Mawr to showcase one of Philadelphia’s most influential modern artists. In addition to painting, Nelson shared his talents as a teacher at Moore College of Art & Design in Philadelphia for more than 30 years before passing away in 1993.
For his part, Byrne has assembled an impressive collection of Nelson’s abstract expressionist works, all of them available to private collectors. “I suppose it’s a pay-it-forward moment for me—to display the wonder of Nelson in Barnes’ almost-vacant backyard,” says Byrne.
932 W. Lancaster Ave., Bryn Mawr; (610) 291-8455, leonardnelson.com.