Albert Barnes, chemist and collector, dies in car crash

Albert Barnes, chemist and art collector, died on this day (July 24) in 1951.

Philadelphian Albert Coombs Barnes (born 2 Jan  <> 1872) had purchased twelve acres of property in Merion and built a private house gallery and art school in the 1920s.

There, he assembled one of the world's largest collections of French impressionist and post-impressionist art.

The paintings, sculptures and decorative pieces there were relocated in 2012 to The Barnes Foundation on the Ben Franklin Parkway. This state-of-the-art museum houses an amazing collection of masterworks by Renoir, Cézanne, Matisse, Rousseau, and Picasso, among other French artists.

Barnes was an American chemist who invented the antiseptic Argyrol (1902). This is a silver-protein compound <>  used in aqueous solutions as a topical antiseptic.

Believing in the social theories of philosophers such as John Dewey, Barnes felt he could better the lives of his fellow citizens. He applied his own ideas in his own factories. He scheduled his workers on 8-hour shifts: 6 hours on the production line, followed by 2 hours of lectures on esthetics and art.

Barnes' theories of art appreciation continue to be taught at the Barnes Foundation today. Dr. Barnes died in a car crash on this day in 1951.