The Barnes Foundation campus in Philadelphia is a breathtaking addition to the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.
Hailed as a “gallery within a garden and a garden within a gallery”, the impressive 93,000-square-foot, two story building housing Dr. Albert C. Barnes’s legendary art collection is a sight to behold.
Set upon the building’s hand-tooled limestone panels is a translucent canopy that casts a warm glow onto the interior courtyard by day and glows like a beacon on the parkway by night.
Inside the building, the Barnes art collection is presented within a 12,000-square-foot gallery that preserves the scale, proportion and configuration of the original Merion gallery. The arrangement allows the world’s largest collection of Impressionist, Post-Impressionist and early Modern paintings along with African sculpture Pennsylvania Dutch decorative arts and other important works to be viewed as intended.
In addition, the building features space for the Barnes Foundation education programs and a 5,000-square-foot-space for temporary exhibitions.
The Barnes Foundation Hotel Package
Complete your visit to The Barnes Foundation with a stay in one of Philadelphia’s incredible hotels. The Barnes Foundation Hotel Package includes untimed tickets to The Barnes Foundation, audio guides, discounts and more. To discover participating hotels, additional offers and book your stay, click here.
The Barnes collection includes 181 Renoirs, 69 Cezannes, 59 Matisses, 46 Picassos and 7 Van Goghs. Be sure to head to the second floor to see Henri Matisse’s seminal painting Joy of Life and mural The Dance, commissioned by Dr. Barnes.
With an eye on the environment, the Barnes Foundation’s Philadelphia campus has placed a focus on sustainable design including natural daylight, a green roof, grey water re-use and reclaimed materials.
In honor of the original Barnes facility, the design of the new four-and-a-half acre site features a series of outdoor rooms and spaces in the public gardens, creating the “gallery in a garden” affect as visitors approach the entrance.
Inspired by the parks of Paris, the grounds offer a place where visitors can sit in quiet contemplation next to the elongated table fountain or ponder Ellsworth Kelly’s new 40-foot-tall sculpture, The Barnes Totem which stands at the end of a reflecting pool.
If you’re in need of a bite to eat during your visit, head to the 50-seat café and courtyard on the first floor or get a snack at the coffee bar on the lower level.
Also located on the lower level, The Barnes Shop features handcrafted gifts, artisanal jewelry, books and reproductions of favorite works from the collection.
Dr. Albert C. Barnes established the Barnes Foundation in 1922 to “promote the advancement of education and the appreciation of the fine arts and horticulture.”
Barnes and The Foundation’s first director of education, John Dewey, were interested in fostering cognitive development through new approaches to education, and in heightening critical-thinking and problem-solving skills through the study of art. Barnes, like Dewey, was actively engaged in development of an intellectual framework and educational philosophies and practices with many of the best artists and thinkers of his day.
In 2004, a court ruling granted permission for the Barnes Foundation’s gallery art collection to move to a new building on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway in Center City Philadelphia.