The Barnes Foundation is celebrating its grand opening this weekend on the Ben Franklin Parkway, where the new museum was built to house the impressive collection of art amassed by Dr. Albert C. Barnes. The original Main Line location of the collection in Merion will now be used as the home base for the center’s horticultural programs, as well as classes and the archives. And the new museum, well, it’s debuting many exciting new additions in a sprawling 93,000-square-foot space.
Designed by Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects, the museum was conceived as a gallery within a garden near both the Rodin Museum and Philadelphia Museum of Art. And while its path to Philly was paved with no shortage of controversy – in his will, Barnes stipulated that the collection be maintained in his home (he had conflicts with political leaders in Philly before his untimely death in a car accident in 1951) – the museum changes the art landscape in the city.
And to celebrate its inaugural week, the Barnes is offering 10 days of free admission (May 10 – 28) along with special events, including an exhibition that traces the inspiration behind Dr. Barnes’ extensive art collection. “We hope the presentation of our collection at the new campus, faithful to the way in which Dr. Barnes displayed it in Merion and, at the same time, shown in a new light, will open the eyes of many more people to these wonderful works of art,” says Derek Gillman, executive director and president of the Barnes.
Here are some highlights of the new museum:
-A 12,000-square-foot gallery housing the original Barnes collection
-Internal and public gardens inspired by the city parks of Paris
-A reflecting pool
-A new sculpture by Ellsworth Kelly – The Barnes Totem – which stands 40-feet tall
-A 150-seat auditorium, special exhibitions gallery and painting conservation laboratory
-Cafe, coffee bar and gift shop
There’s even a video that creatively tracks the construction of the new museum: