The Barnes Foundation

16 Jun

After having read countless reviews on the new Barnes Foundation I have one of my own due to my dear friend Julia. A  colleague from her office was unable to use her tickets[its a 3 week wait], lucky for us,we were very both very available.

The approach to the entrance and the walkway through the moat

The new home for the collection in my estimation is a stunning addition to Philadelphia’s parkway of world-class museums. The years of wrangling and protests over moving Dr. Barnes superb collection of impressionist and early 20th. century art out of its suburban home to its new building I can’t imagine why anyone would have regrets, after seeing the new box its wrapped in.

View from interior out to the moat and entrance bridge

An mosaic homage to motifs found on the original building in Merion


Designed by Tod Williams and Billie Tsien, the new home is a meticulously crafted modern counterpoint for the now jewel-like recreations of the collections just as Dr. Barnes had specified they remain after his death. The new building is even oriented in the same direction as the original. The state of art lighting gives the paintings a new vibrancy and clarity missing from their old home. As one strolls the same familiar path [ I’ve seen the paintings more than once] through the galleries, glassed vertical light wells punctuate your passage from one room to another. The wells contain carefully chosen plantings topped off with a view of a patch of sky or other multi use rooms displayed to their best advantage [especially the Nakashima table and chairs] These modern transitions reinforce the preciousness of the formal [if somewhat quirky]  galleries, simply a beautiful and elegant contrast of styles.

The Annenberg Hall is a light filled joy to behold. The evening we attended live music and available refreshments created a conviviality missing in so many other museums. A granite water feature served as the bar a 1/4″ pool of water traveling for at least 30 feet,decorated with colorful summer flowers was, very festive to say the least. The translucent panels the textured surfaces and the unique sky light treatment combine to produce a stately effect, perfect for functions of all kinds, I’m sure it is booked for months already.

The outdoor space at one end provides a welcome alternative. A huge deck with restrained furnishings rivals the garden at the MOMA. The landscaping creates a sense of secure privacy while you sip your cocktail by the flame niche located in the far wall..very nice, if a bit too trendy for my taste. None the less, a superior site. I was very impressed by the cantilevered second floor that shelters much of the deck.

The fire niche banks a elevated platform,a perfect dance floor.

An interesting juxtaposition of exterior elements


Due to the fact that photos are forbidden in the galleries I cannot share the mind-boggling collection. I have heard all the arguments and even I find myself rearranging his paintings as I stroll the collection,I would love to see all the Cézanne displayed together or for that matter the whole show displayed by artist [that way I could avoid Dr. Barnes passion for Renoirs pastel nudes that interfere on every wall] We all have our reasons for collecting what we collect, far be it from me to spoil the doctors or Billy Glackin’s fun.  Let me state in closing that the Barnes has found a new home befitting its importance as it joins the other great Philadelphia institutions that line our Parkway.The addition of the Barnes makes clear to all who pass through our city our commitment to preserving the historical and artistic contributions made by our citizens, that enrich our lives and our country. Never forget, it all started here.

The entrance moat

The view from on to the Parkway and Logan Circle

More Photos


2 Responses to “The Barnes Foundation”

  1. Rene Torres June 19, 2012 at 8:03 pm #

    Todd Williams and Billy Tsien are incredible architects! Your pictures confirm the quality of their works. Inga Saffron is just frustrated that she can’t design anything – just criticize.

    • vori52 June 22, 2012 at 8:27 am #

      That’s what I think…We finally have a modern civic structure of importance on the Parkway

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