Feature Story

The Barnes Foundation: Expanding Access to World-Class Art and Education

The Barnes Foundation is internationally recognized as the foremost collection of late-nineteenth and early twentieth-century modern art with the largest number of Impressionist, Post-Impressionist and early Modern paintings in the world. This unrivaled collection has "more Cézannes than the Louvre" and includes 181 Renoirs, 69 Cézannes, 46 Picassos, 59 Matisses, as well as works by Modigliani, Monet, Degas, van Gogh, Seurat and Manet. It is among the most important and unique in the world, with French Impressionist masterpieces displayed next to African sculpture and tribal art as dictated almost a century ago by its founder, Dr. Albert C. Barnes.  

The Barnes Collection is internationally known for its diversity. Dr. Barnes’ passion for African art was cultivated at an early age when he regularly attended camp meetings and revival, gospel masses with his mother. This influence had a profound impact on his life and inspired him to create this extraordinary collection of art and the Foundation that he dedicated to education.  

Dr. Barnes displayed his collection in symmetrical wall arrangements known as "ensembles" to encourage students and visitors, as they still do, to see art in a new way. Barnes spent his life reflecting on how best to present these works to his students, so as to draw their attention to how artists amplified key features of human visual experience, the most important of which to him was color.  

The Barnes Foundation was previously located in Merion, PA with limited access to the public and re-opened in a new state-of-the-art building in Philadelphia in May 2012. The collection is displayed in a Gallery that replicates the legendary scale, proportion and configuration of Dr. Barnes’ original galleries.    

Dr. Barnes challenged the elitism of the art world and committed to make his collection accessible to everyone. This relocation to Philadelphia will now make this extraordinary collection and the Foundation’s educational resources available to millions. The opening of the Barnes is one of the most significant moments in Philadelphia and art history, and will be a gift for future generations to experience. Comcast is proud to call Philadelphia home and to support the Barnes Foundation, an institution that is an inspiration to the city, its residents and visitors from around the world.

 

Photograph © 2012 The Barnes Foundation

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