The Barnes Foundation is a museum in Philadelphia with a controversial history and an amazing personal collection of post-impressionism and early modern art. Think Cezanne, Matisse, Gauguin, Manet, Modigliani, etc. Part of the controversy is that it just moved from a residential location in the suburbs of Philadelphia, to the Ben Franklin Parkway where it’s adjacent to our other museums. Albert C. Barnes, the owner of this private collection did not want it to be moved. However, 100 years later, I felt that the intention of keeping it in the residential neighborhood hindered many people from being able to see the collection. Advance reservations months ahead were needed, parking reservations, and hoops to jump through based on zoning regulations for this residential area.
Last week I attended the LEED Platinum Award Ceremony for the newly constructed Barnes Foundation through the Delaware Valley Green Building Council. It was a great excuse to mingle with volunteer colleagues, say goodbye as I’m stepping down this month, and see the new space.
Riding my bike past it for the past couple of years on my way to work, it didn’t seem like construction would ever be done. But here we are, and the museum is beautiful. It’s pretty modern, but the collection inside was laid out exactly like the original museum which was a good compromise to Barnes’ wishes.
The part that irks me about the layout though, is that it’s hung gallery style, which although looks great, can be overwhelming when there are tons of things you want to look at. My favorites are some of his Vouillard and Matisse paintings. However, there are seriously 3 of my favorite paintings there that are literally hung 8 feet in the air above the doorway. You can barely see them. I guess I’ll have to purchase the museum collection book someday. Or continue to wish that they’d switch it back and forth from gallery style to museum style semi-annually! No dice…
Also on the Parkway, recently Mike and I attended the inaugural event of the Open Air, which is an interactive light installation that allows users to change the light patterns with their voice. There is an app people can download and the lights will move to the tone of your message, poem, vent, etc. I did not download the app, but some sweet older ladies asked for my help when I was waiting for the bus. I thought they needed help with the bus schedule, and they assumed I was a pro with the fancy app. We laughed and parted ways after I wished them luck.
It’s funny that on opening night, the results were downright disappointing due to clouds. I’m glad that it’s much more impressive now due to some crappy weather! People are enjoying it and participating, which is what matters.