This is Argyrol!
(here's their Facebook
page (12 people like it!)) A colloidal silver topical anti-microbial ointment, it was used extensively in the first half of the 20th century, mostly for the treatment of gonorrhea. It also bankrolled one of the finest art collections of the 20th century.
The co-creator of Argyrol, Alfred Barnes
, took the fortune he made off Argyrol and started to collect, voraciously, late impressionist and early modernist paintings. He brought his collection home to Merion, Pennsylvania, set up a Foundation and hung the paintings according to ideas he developed with John Dewey
(who wrote Art and Experience
based on lectures he gave as the Foundation's first president.) Then, for all intents and purposes, Barnes shut the door to the public. Intent on keeping his collection intact and pristine, as part of the foundation's establishment he prohibited any of the paintings of the collection from being loaned out to other institutions, even color reproductions of the works were restricted, and the collection was only open to the public for limited times.
The Foundation was not entirely functional though and about ten years ago it started to run out of money. The building fell into dis-repair and some of the paintings were in need of conservation. Ironic as its collection had grown in worth to (an estimated) 25 billion (yes, with a 'B' billion) dollars.
What happened next was either a gross breach of the intent of the Foundation
and the destruction
of what was one of the finest art collections in the world, or it's salvation.
The board was overthrown, the Foundation turned into a for-profit venture, a new building has been built to house it in Philadelphia - the galleries of which almost entirely duplicate the interior of the building which originally housed the collection.
For all of the storm und drang of the last decade Jerry Salz, in his review
of the new building, has probably put it best,
Soon the dust will settle, the feuds will fade, and art will do what it does. Till then, remember this: Owners of art are temporary caretakers. Their wishes are not to be sacrosanct in perpetuity. The move of this singular jewel in the crown to a more accessible location, into a far better-equipped, much more flexible building, allows this monumental testament to art’s possibilities to shine forth more magnanimously and generously than ever before. When art wins, everyone wins. Even Albert Barnes.