The works could not be de-accessioned or put on loan, and they could be viewed at the gallery only by appointment.
Those rules, as well as a short biography of the controversial Barnes, who made his fortune manufacturing an antiseptic called Argyrol, are listed on a Web site - www.barnesfoundation.org - recently developed for the foundation by students at West Chester University.
The rules are presented there, not as a warning to visitors, but as part of a series of articles under the heading "In the Press."
The site reproduces few paintings from the Barnes collection, but it does allow visitors to make online reservations, read a history of the foundation, buy items from the Barnes gift shop, and learn about coming events and educational programs.
Perusing the gift-shop samplings of Cezanne puzzles and Renoir magnets, one wonders what Barnes would think.
As the history section relates, Barnes was devoted to the idea that art should be accessible, especially to the underprivileged and working class.
Many of his theories about how art should be viewed - hence the strict gallery arrangement - were based on discussions with his employees when he put his newly acquired works in his factory.
Much of the background information on the Barnes is given in reprints of news stories recounting the foundation's years of lawsuits and community dissension that began when part of the Barnes collection was sent on a world tour in 1993.
Though museum Web sites are nothing new - most of the major museums in the area have them - only the Barnes seems especially intent on developing a cyberspace audience.
Barnes officials see the Web site as a way to continue the visibility the collection obtained when it went from a little-known treasure trove to one that brought international acclaim to the foundation while the paintings were on tour.
After spending five years at the Franklin Mint, Andrew Stewart arrived at the Barnes last March to develop the museum gift shop and merchandising efforts. He hopes the Web site will allow the foundation to be more "topical" with art events and exhibits, such as the Van Gogh show planned at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
"We can't move the Van Goghs from here, but at least we can let people know that we have them," Stewart said recently.
Though the Web site has yet to include an online inventory of Barnes paintings - that may happen eventually - it presumably will make it easier for people to make reservations to visit the museum, which is open only three days a week. Visitors now are limited to a weekly total of 1,200, or 400 a day, on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.
Although the Barnes seems to embrace the merchandising efforts, corporate funding, and audience development of today's museum culture, the Web site is no substitute for a personal visit.
For one thing, there is the thrill of discovering familiar works among the collection's more than 800 paintings.
Among the 69 Cezannes, for instance, there is the famous Card Players. Van Gogh's Postman is there, as well as paintings by Chester County's Horace Pippin.
Each gallery room also contains period furniture, pottery and iron work, many reflecting a Pennsylvania Dutch heritage.
None are labeled or described in handouts, although the paintings are given reference numbers and shown on a map of miniature picture frames.
The potential "blockbuster" appeal of many of the French Impressionist paintings, for instance, is lessened by their arrangement next to works by early unknown artists or seemingly provincial artists such as Pippin and William Glackens, one of several of the "Ashcan" realists represented in the collection.
In other words, one can hardly be an art snob at the Barnes.
In room after room, the wall arrangements of each painting bring out similarities in color, line and composition.
Barnes, whose ideas about art are still taught in a two-year program at the foundation, believed that certain universal elements and traditions are found in all art forms, from works of the cultured Impressionists to unschooled African artists.
Where else but at the Barnes, visitors will come to realize, can a portrait of a kneeling priest by El Greco hang next to Cezanne's Man in Room?
Although completed in different eras, Cezanne's up-front painting of a man standing with crossed arms in an empty room seems to take on El Greco's characteristic use of elongated forms and a posturing that shows attitude.
The Barnes Foundation is at 300 North Latches Lane in Merion and is open Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. For information and reservations, call 610-664-7917, 664-5191, or 667-0290,option 5, or consult the foundation Web site at http://www.barnesfoundation.org
Catherine Quillman's e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org