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Planned Giving

Visitors looking at a painting

Lifelong Art Lover Tom Ruttledge Makes Legacy Gift to the Barnes’s Endowment

Thomas Ruttledge

Thomas Ruttledge (1964–2020), or “Tom” to his friends, was a chemistry professor at Cornell University with a lifelong love for art, photography, travel, museums, road cycling, and the outdoors. Born and raised in Michigan, he was recently described by friends Michael Lenetsky, Abby Christman, and Demi Perry as “a piece of art himself”—having curated his home and wardrobe with the vibrant artworks and clothing he collected on various trips around the globe. Tom consistently “dressed to impress,” and his lively storytelling made others gravitate to his company.

Tom fell in love with the Barnes in the 1990s, when he was a professor at Ursinus College in Collegeville, Pennsylvania. A longtime member and frequent visitor, Tom was especially drawn to Henri Matisse’s The Dance and the African masks on display as well as Dr. Barnes’s ensemble wall hangings. Museums for Tom were a “mini trip around the world and through time,” and the Barnes united his interests in Paris and Africa under one roof.

Tom generously named the Barnes as a beneficiary of his retirement accounts upon his death. This significant contribution was directed to the Barnes’s endowment, where it will help sustain the stewardship of our renowned collection and our education and community engagement programs in perpetuity—a truly lasting legacy.

According to Michael Lenetsky, “The Barnes gave Tom a lot of happiness in life, and he wanted to make sure that the organizations he loved were taken care of.”