|Via Visit Philly|
"The Barnes Foundation houses one of the finest collections of nineteenth and twentieth-century French painting in the world. An extraordinary number of masterpieces by Renoir, Cézanne and Matisse provide a depth of work by these artists unavailable elsewhere. Established as an educational institution the Barnes carries out its mission teaching classes in its galleries and Arboretum. The Barnes welcomes visitors and students throughout the year."
I wanted to go, because soon (2011/2012) the entire collection will be moved from it's current location in a beautiful estate home to a new home in Center City Philadelphia, the new Parkway Building. I wanted to see it in it's original setting. It is unusual because the paintings are hung salon style. The website states, "He chose and arranged the works in 'wall ensembles' in the Gallery to illustrate for the Foundation's students the visual elements and aesthetic traditions he felt were evident in all art forms across periods and cultures." In addition, there is quite a bit of antique furniture and Pennsylvania-German folk art in the galleries.
So, when you listen to the audio tour not only do they describe the paintings but they also describe why the paintings (and even some of the furniture) were hung/displayed together. In one gallery there is a large Matisse painting in the middle of the wall with a Rousseau still life on each side, then further out (on each side) are two small Miro paintings then sitting on the floor below the Miros are 2 antique candle stands - the feet of each candle stand are a bit different but they matche the lines in each of the Miro paintings. That is the kind of thought that went into placing the artwork.
To say the least the collection is AMAZING and it was a very inspiring day! I would be remiss if I did not mention that there is quite a bit of controversy about moving this collection from it's original home. If you are interested in learning more about this aspect of The Barnes Foundation you could rent the movie, "The Art of the Steal".
If you have now decided that you to must go visit the Barnes Foundation before it moves, please make sure to MAKE RESERVATIONS!!! In addition, you can purchase a parking pass - this is a very good idea! The Foundation is located in a neighborhood without much additional parking...so, you decide if it's worth it (I think it is). I am not sure when this location will be closing - it is difficult to find this exact information. So, if you decide you want to go - make you plans soon! The new location is slated to open in late 2011. It's worth the trip! Enjoy