The controversial new Barnes Foundation is now open in Philadelphia. The controversy is over the location: Albert Barnes housed his amazing collection in his Lower Merion gallery. His primary interest was exposing under-privileged children to great art. And he made it clear that the collection should remain there forever. But in recent years, the Trustees, along with influential people in Philadelphia, felt that they could better serve the public by moving the collection to a world-class location in Philadelphia.
Regardless of your views on this, the Trustees have certainly achieved their goal. The new facility sits on a prime spot on Philadelphia’s Benjamin Franklin Parkway, along with the city’s other major museums. But what’s really striking: the designers created the main gallery as an exact replica of the original.
Famous masterpieces by Impressionists (and later) including Renoir, Cezanne, Roseau, Miro, Picasso, Van Gogh cover the walls. I circled the entire exhibit three times and each time discovered something I had missed.
Besides artwork, the galleries contain antique furniture including Pennsylvania German dower chests and striking sculptural metalwork. Barnes also collected Native American pottery—on view on the lower level.
Barnes’ vision for his collection was to educate. A variety of new programs will extend this artwork to the community. Bring the kids. A great gift shop offers many items geared toward younger visitors.
No photography—however, you can buy a reasonably priced volume which contains selected works in the collection. Ticket prices: $18 for adults, $10.00 for children.