- Places to Explore
- Travel Tips
- Fodor's Choice
Mobile AppDownload Fodor's City Guide App for FREE!
Barnes Foundation Review
Nearly sequestered from public view for a century in Lower Merrion, PA, this legendary collection of 19th- and 20th-century masterpieces made world headlines when it relocated to this spectacular new home in May 2012. While the statistics are impressive—81 Renoirs, 69 Cézannes, 59 Matisses, 46 Picassos, 7 Van Goghs, 6 Seurats (and many more)—almost more inspiring is this soaring marble and glass museum. Largely thanks to a brilliant modernist setting, the greatness of this collection of art is only now revealed, due to a new design that lends a sense of intimacy between viewer and object, while at the same time increasing one's appreciation of capital-A art.
The collection was amassed (in the 1920s and 1930s) thanks to the millions Dr. Barnes made in pharmaceuticals. As a theorist, he wanted to help people "see as an artist saw" and to do this, he created for each gallery wall an "ensemble" of mirror-like symmetry: a Matisse could hang side-by-side with a Goya, above an African sculpture, and below a Old Master sketch and a French tin shoe-buckle. As his will decreed that nothing could be changed, everything had to be transported—lock, stock, and Modigliani—to this new showcase.
Warmed by walls of tawny-colored Negev sandstone, centered around an enormous "Light Court"—the perfect place for gallery-goers to reflect on art—and entered through a narrow "mood tube" of reflecting pools and tall trees, the design of architects Tod Williams and Billy Tsien may be minimalist in style but remains mellow in impact. Inside, an interior garden, art library, restaurant, two classrooms, and café are winningly used as buffer zones to the rooms hung with the core collection.
Highlights include some of the most fabled paintings of Impressionist, Post-Impressionist, and Modern art, including Cézanne's The Card Players, Georges Seurat's Models, Van Gogh's Postman Roulin, Monet's Studio Boat, Matisse's Joy of Life and La Danse mural, Renoir's The Artist's Family, and Picasso's Acrobat and Young Harlequin. Thanks to a new lighting system, the art looks so fresh that it seems the artists had just put down their palettes. It is safe to say that most museum-goers will find this new Barnes Foundation a work of art in itself. For information about the museum's packed calendar of classes, lectures, and concerts, see the website.
Free Fodor's Newsletter
Subscribe today for weekly travel inspiration, tips, and special offers.
Fodor's Trip Planning Ideas
- Weekend Getaways: Fodor's Recommends the Best Weekend Escapes in the US
- Great American Vacation: Find Your Next U.S. Trip with Fodor's
- 80 Degrees: Fodor's Helps You Find Your Best Beach Vacation Spots
- Go List: Fodor's Top 25 Places to Go in 2013
- Hotel Awards 2012: Fodor's 100 Top Hotels
- Best of Europe: Fodor's Picks the Best Places to Visit in Europe
- Book 3 Nts in Philadelphia this Jun Fr $88+/Nt Expedia
- $85.00 & up : 3-star hotels in Philadelphia Hotwire
- Super Savings on Philadelphia 5 Nts Htl + Air Fr $1,026 Travelocity
- $14.95 & up : Economy rentals in Philadelphia Hotwire
- Hilton Inn at Penn in Jun: $207 & Up — $207 Expedia
Thanks in advance to all the people here who helped in the planning of this - both last year and this year! Read more
Okay, I'm a philistine when it comes to art; I knows what I likes, and that's about it. Read more
·Arizona Forum, California Forum, Massachusetts Forum, Nevada Forum, New York Forum, Pennsylvania Forum, Washington, D.C. Forum
I have 6 weeks in the US from 1st of September till 12th of October. Read more
· News & Features
Need we say more? ... Read more
On the tip of Mexico's Baja Peninsula, sun-drenched Los Cabos draws in everyone from honeymooners and... Read more
Switzerland may be best known for its frosty summits, but the tiny-yet-diverse country opens up in summertime... Read more