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5 Ways to Find an Artful Holiday Escape at the Barnes

Barnes 30 Americans Exhibition

/ Darian DiCanno of BFA

Look no further than Philly’s Museum Mile for the chance to wow visiting family and friends and beat the holiday hustle and bustle. With a critically acclaimed exhibition, plus a newly launched mobile gallery guide, the Barnes is your go-to escape for the season. Both frequent gallery-goers and casual visitors can also cross a few gifts off their lists while supporting our city’s arts scene. Ready to get started? Begin planning your trip with the five must-see highlights listed below.

Experience the 30 Americans exhibition.

Featuring works from 30 of the most influential African American artists in recent history, this groundbreaking show is now on view in Philly for the first time. See works by Jean-Michel Basquiat, Kara Walker and Kehinde Wiley (the artist behind Obama’s presidential portrait), plus other expressions of personal and cultural identity through sculpture, painting, drawing, photography and video. It won’t stay at the Barnes forever; 30 Americans jets off for its next installation in Hawaii after the exhibition closes on January 12.

Take a docent-led tour.

With thousands of works in its legendary collection, there’s always more to explore at the Barnes — but where to start? View the absolute essentials on a one-hour, expert-led highlights tour, a favorite for first-time visitors that sets off twice daily. Repeat guests will appreciate the in-depth approach offered by the spotlight tours. December’s Cézanne-themed adventure will kick off every day at 1 p.m. Want to curate your own art adventure? Submit a request to the museum and a specially trained docent will design a personalized tour on any subject just for you.

Barnes Focus mobile gallery guide

/ Courtesy of the Barnes Foundation

Explore with the new Barnes Focus mobile guide.

Founder Dr. Albert C. Barnes believed that art is for everyone. To democratize the art experience, he organized his collection into ensembles, which reveal universal connections across cultures and time without the interpretive content you’d typically see on a museum wall. For visitors who are curious to learn more, the Barnes now offers a free mobile guide called Barnes Focus. Just point your smartphone camera at a work of art and the guide will automatically pull up information and stories about works in the collection. The most convenient part: No download required. Just open barnesfoc.us on your device to start exploring.


2 Chic Designs bags

/ Courtesy of the Barnes Foundation

Find holiday gifts at the Barnes Shop.

Pick up perfect presents while supporting the arts. Each purchase at the Barnes Shop — on the lower level or through the online shop — goes toward the Barnes’ mission in arts education. Wrap up Matisse-inspired mugs, art history-themed coloring books, or accessories handmade by local artist Cynthia Lawson of 2ChicDesigns.

Barnes Foundation gallery

/ Courtesy of the Barnes Foundation

Share the Barnes experience with friends and family.

Stuck on what to gift this year? A Barnes membership provides year-round access to art and exclusive perks. Each member enjoys unlimited free admission plus access to exhibition previews, private tours and discounted classes — a gift that truly keeps on giving.

Visit the Barnes Foundation at 20th and the Parkway — conveniently accessible by car, bike and public transportation — between the hours of 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. from Wednesday to Monday. (See extended the holiday hours listed at barnesfoundation.org)