The Barnes Foundation provides visitors with a new way to look at art. While most art museums adhere to an unspoken code where walls or entire rooms are dedicated to one artist or style of work, the Barnes Foundation is arranged based on relationships between pieces of artwork. Paintings are hung in symmetrical patterns, calling attention to similarities in color, content or subject matter.
Viewing art at the Foundation is an interactive experience. Visitors are encouraged to speak about what they see, and to feel secure in their own capacity to understand art.
The Foundation was founded in 1922 by Dr. Albert C. Barnes. Barnes was firm in his conviction that if an individual could learn to have an experience with art, it would change his or her life. He sought to educate others by sharing his collection.
The Foundation exists today as the largest collection of post-impressionist art in the world. The main room of the Foundation contains a one of a kind Matisse, which occupies the arches on the ceiling immediately across from the entrance. Barnes commissioned this installment, The Dance, for the space himself. Its vivid hues make it impossible to miss.
Barnes chose to make a statement through the content, color and what he referred to as the basic human qualities contained within the paintings on display. Some rooms are filled with vibrant colors, others with muted hues. Art is displayed in a unique way, with particular sensitivity to light and darkness.
Some of the many artists that may be seen on a visit to the Foundation are Renoir, Picasso, Monet and Van Gogh. A wide variety of artifacts from ancient Egypt, Rome and the renaissance period are also on display.
Honors Director Ruth Ost She recommends that people who want to become more involved in the art world visit the Foundation, stressing that “if you expect to go to a regular museum, [the Foundation] undermines all these things. Craft and art together, antique andirons with Cezannes.”
The Barnes Foundation is located at 300 N. Latch’s Lane in Merion, PA, and can be contacted at 610-664-4026.
Dana Booker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org