With its centennial year approaching in 2022, the Barnes Foundation is on a path to raise $100 million by that celebratory anniversary, its leaders said Tuesday. The campaign has quietly bubbled along for more than a year, bringing in its first donation in December 2017, and has raised $35.3 million so far in pledges and gifts.

The Barnes, which moved its galleries to central Philadelphia from Lower Merion in 2012, hopes that donors will agree to put the vast majority of the $100 million into the endowment, where it can produce income each year, and support operations and initiatives to a greater extent than the endowment now can.

“We figured this is a moment when the institution has built up a head of steam,” said executive director and president Thomas Collins. “There’s no capital project on the horizon, no debt, and no deferred maintenance.”

The Barnes Foundation on the Parkway, seen at night in a file photo
The Barnes Foundation on the Parkway, seen at night in a file photo

Currently, investment income from the endowment (which had a market value of $68 million at the end of September) accounts for about 15 percent of the institution’s annual income.

“We think it would be much healthier if it were about a third of our revenue,” said Collins.

Barnes executive vice president and chief financial officer Margaret Zminda said that curatorial programs and service to the community have increased — new programs include a partnership with Puentes de Salud in South Philly’s Latino immigrant community — and “that requires a long-term source of funding. So as we’ve become the institution we are now, we really recognize that our ambitions are different than they were in 2006, 2007, and 2008, when we were raising money for this building.”

The enhanced income would go toward supporting base operating costs, growing existing programs, and investing in the creation of new programs, Collins said.

The endowment campaign will proceed parallel to the Barnes' annual fund-raising campaign, which in 2018 raised $10 million.

Endowment campaigns typically begin with gifts from within the “family” — board members and other close supporters. So it has been with this effort. The biggest gifts so far:

  • $10 million from the Neubauer Family Foundation, half of which endows the president/executive director position.
  • $5 million from Aileen K. and Brian L. Roberts to endow the special exhibition program.
  • $5 million from the Maguire Foundation to name the garden pavilion the Frances M. Maguire Garden Pavilion.
  • $2.5 million from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation to support digital audience engagement projects.

Collins said some potential gifts on the horizon toward the $100 million goal could happen quickly, while others might take longer, “but we are very confident we can make this.”