Just days after opening on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, the Barnes Foundation's new Philadelphia campus has netted praise from publications as esteemed and diverse as the New York Times, Vanity Fair, Forbes and the New Yorker. (Photo by M. Edlow for GPTMC)
The Barnes Foundation officially opened its doors on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway this past Saturday, May 19 with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and star-studded gala.
But the 10-day Grand Opening Celebration continues right through Memorial Day Weekend — details right here on the 56 consecutive hours of free access and activities. And to get you primed for your visit, we’re providing you with a brief rundown of some of the glowing praise the museum has already received.
• Front page New York Times story: In a piece titled “A Museum, Reborn, Remains True to Its Old Self, Only Better”, the Times writes that the relocated Barnes honors its original site while improving on it.
“It is easier to get to, more comfortable and user-friendly, and, above all, blessed with state-of-the-art lighting that makes the collection much, much easier to see. And Barnes’s exuberant vision of art as a relatively egalitarian aggregate of the fine, the decorative and the functional comes across more clearly, justifying its perpetuation with a new force.”
• New Yorker: Art critic Peter Schjeldahl writes a great historical synopsis of Albert Barnes and his renowned art collection in “Moving Pictures: The Barnes Foundation’s new home.” Peter Schjeldahl calls the new building a “grand edifice,” a specimen of “spectacular contemporary architecture.”
“A lifetime of art-history lectures will teach you less about Cézanne’s quiddity, and why and how it matters, than an hour at the Barnes. In general, the Barnes is a museum that all but animatedly thinks and feels at every turn.”
• Vanity Fair: The write-up is as praiseful as the headline: “The New Barnes Foundation Building: Soulful, Self-assured, and Soaked with Light.”
“There is more and better light of every kind here than there ever was in the old Barnes—more natural light and more artificial light…. Suddenly now, the paintings, in all of their magnificent color, are visible in a whole new way.”
• Travel + Leisure: “The Barnes Foundation Opens its New Philadelphia Home” calls the collection “astounding” and admires the fact that the new setup encourages viewers to think about the paintings in new ways.
“The new campus of the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia represents, simply put, a game changer for what a museum can be, the experience of art, and role architecture plays in both. It is also a game changer for Philadelphia, at a moment of splendid cultural renaissance.”
Keep reading, below.
• Architectural Digest: In a Q&A with the husband-wife architectural team behind the new Barnes, the nation’s architectural authority describes Tod Williams and Billie Tsien as having created a “thoughtful design that captures the spirit of the original galleries while shedding light on a very distinctive collection.”
“[W]e really came to appreciate Barnes’s eye and his thinking. Now that we look at the work being installed, it’s in the same order, but it’s stronger than it ever was.”
• Forbes: Even the money mag had much to say about the Barnes in “A New, Friendlier Barnes Foundation Opens.” The piece acknowledges the huge challenges the Barnes team faced in transplanting the gallery, and concedes that they were successful.
“What they created through a complex weaving of design, materials and workmanship was a bright, modern facility that shows a great deal of sensitivity to Barnes’ vision while providing a humane, modern environment to view what many believe is the greatest private art collection amassed in modern times.”
• Philadelphia Inquirer: The Inquirer has dedicated an entire section of their website to the Barnes: philly.com/barnes. You can virtually explore inside the museum, read about the opening gala and more. Just one choice quote:
“[T]he collection remains memorable, exciting and provocative in a way that few other museums can match. Even if you’ve visited Merion a hundred times, the new presentation renews its capacity to offer a fresh response, first time, every time.”
• The Wall Street Journal: In an “Insider’s Guide to Philadelphia” piece, the WSJ calls the Barnes opening “triumphant,” just one of many reasons to visit Philadelphia right now.
“The triumphant arrival of the Barnes Foundation, a private collection of post-Impressionist and early modern art, is emblematic of the new Philadelphia.”
• NPR: As the headline puts it, in a good way, “Barnes Foundation Changes Location, But Little Else.” The article highlights the subtle changes and respectful homages in the new Barnes Foundation.
“The architects were able to add natural sources of light in nearly every room. That brings out colors in the paintings you couldn’t see before.”
To get your own look inside one of the world’s most esteemed art collections, reserve tickets and/or become a member online.
The Barnes Foundation – Now Open!
2025 Benjamin Franklin Parkway