Art News: Philly’s New Barnes Building, to Open May 2012

The Barnes Foundation has received the go-ahead to move its world-renowned Impressionist art collection to a new home on Benjamin Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia, ending a years-long legal battle.

The new $150-million building, designed by Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects, is scheduled to open to the public May 19, 2012. The Barnes Collection is a major tourist attraction in the Philadelphia area, and one of the world’s largest holdings of Impressionist, Post-Impressionist, and early Modern paintings, including extensive holdings by Renoir, Cézanne, Matisse, Picasso, Rousseau, Modigliani, Soutine and de Chirico. It also features Old Master paintings, important examples of African sculpture, Native American ceramics, American paintings and decorative arts, and antiquities from the Mediterranean region and Asia.

Because the museum’s founder, Albert Barnes, willed that his masterpieces always remain at his estate in Lower Merion, a group called Friends of the Barnes have fought to keep the collection there. The courts recently upheld an earlier ruling allowing the move after the group’s final appeal.

The new, two-story, 93,000-square-foot building will house the collection, as well as classrooms, a 150-seat auditorium, a special exhibitions gallery, a 50-seat café with a courtyard for outdoor dining, and a gift shop. The Barnes’ Lower Merion location will remain open and continue to hold art classes.

Visitors can make reservations to see the new building on March 1, 2012.

Headed to the City of Brotherly Love? Read more about things to do in Philly in our Philadelphia Travel Guide.

Photo credit: courtesy marybethhertz/flickr