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3 Ways to Explore the Barnes Whether You Have One Hour, Three Hours or a Whole Day

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A museum can often feel like a weekend-only destination, one that requires a sizable chunk of time and planning. But that’s not so at the Barnes, Philly’s most venerable — and surprisingly accessible — collection of impressionist, post-impressionist, and early modern art. There, visitors can swing by for an hour-long outing, a Saturday morning jaunt, an entire day, or any variation in between. In fact, it’s so accessible, we whipped up three handy itineraries to get you started. 

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If You Have…One Hour

So long, humdrum desk salad. Hit the Barnes during your lunch break (or the next time you have a free hour!) for a little art and culture during your workday.

12:00pm: Hit some of the must-sees. Did you know the Barnes is home to 181 Renoirs, 69 Cézannes, 59 Matisses, 46 Picassos, 16 Modigli­anis and 7 Van Goghs? Yeah, there are many major works to hit. Go in with a game plan (think: Picasso’s “Acrobat and Young Harlequin” and Renoir’s “Bathing Group”) to avoid aimless wandering—the massive gallery is 12,000 square feet, after all.

Alternatively: If you’d prefer the guiding genius of a pro, nab tickets to one of the daily collection tours. Lasting approximately one hour (your boss will never notice you left!), the tour is led by specially trained docents and features highlights of the collection, as well as key information about the artists and the Barnes. Tickets cost $45 for non-members and $22 for members.

On your way out: Don’t forget to snap an Instagram or two of the stunning landscape and architecture. Tag your photos #meetyourmasterpiece for a chance to be featured by the Barnes.

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If You Have…Three Hours

Whether it’s a summer Friday foray, a first date* or post-brunch adventure, three hours is the perfect amount of time to visit favorite collections.

2:00pm: Kick off your visit with an individualized tour. Available Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays, private tours are a top-notch way to begin your visit. Unlike the daily collection tours, a private tour will be customized for your group’s interests and must be requested at least two weeks in advance ([email protected] or 215-278-7200). It costs $60 per person; groups must be fewer than six people.

3:00pm: Move on to the galleries. Once you’re done prodding your tour docent for additional must-visits at the museum (hey, we get it), you can view the rest of the collection. Meandering is highly encouraged (the symmetrical wall compositions are totally hypnotizing) but if you need additional structure, download the adult and family tours app, Audio Tours at the Barnes Foundation, for free on your Apple or Android device.

*Don’t forget: The Barnes is also open 6pm to 9pm every First Friday! Or, you can opt for an intimate Tuesday premier tour while the museum is closed to the public. Swoon.

If You Have…The Whole Day

No meetings. No deadlines. Dedicate your entire day to the Barnes’ very best collections, exhibitions and customizable tours.

11:00am: Begin your day at the Barnes Arboretum. Located on 12 acres in Merion, this awe-inducing horticultural haven is a gorgeous spot to start your day. Tours are available at 1pm, but we suggest grabbing a coffee beforehand and walking the grounds.

12:30pm: Head to the Barnes for a scrumptious lunch. Swing by the Garden Restaurant for Mediterranean-inspired salads and a lineup of health entrees made with locally sourced ingredients and sustainable proteins. They also boast a wine list, local beer list and classic European cakes and tarts. Tip: order the charred baby eggplant and cheese plate for the table.

2:30pm: Enjoy a family-friendly tour. If you’re bringing along children, be sure to reserve a spot in Family Tour: ArtSee Highlights, which is available the second and third Sundays of each month. The interactive guided exploration is amenable to little ones while remaining entertaining and informative for adults. Reserve a spot here or 215-278-7200.

3:30pm: Visit your favorites. The Barnes is open until 5pm, so spend the next hour perusing the collections and stellar exhibitions.

4:30pm: Commemorate your stay. Delightfully eclectic and style-forward, the Barnes’ gift shop is perfect for scooping up tough-to-find gifts and wares.

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The Barnes offers a bevy of tours in varying lengths and for groups of all sizes. Click here to find one (or two!) for your next visit. Remember: Book any tour scheduled through June 30 (use code SUMMERTOUR at checkout or mention the promo code on-site or over the phone) and take home a Matisse or Monet art poster from the Barnes Shop.