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What To Expect on Your Visit to the Barnes Foundation

August 23, 2022 By CityPASS

Philadelphia is called "home" by families, business professionals, blue-collar workers, and the world-famous Philly cheesesteak. It's also the city that lays claim to some of the United States' most historical events such as the Continental Congresses of 1774 and 1775. However, would you believe that Philadelphia also offers an art community and art education that rivals other major cities? You should.

Philadelphia isn't just for American History lovers and New York City Commuters. In fact, Philadelphia is home to the United States' oldest art school — the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, founded in 1805. Additionally, Philadelphia's new artist-run spaces are once again putting the City of Brotherly Love back on the art scene map, and Philadelphia boasts one of the U.S.'s most arts-vibrant communities.

It's no wonder that art lovers, collectors, and students come from all over the world to partake in one of Philadelphia's most significant community treasures — the Barnes Foundation.

Barnes Foundation Outside
Photo by Darren Burton. Courtesy of the Barnes Foundation

The History of the Barnes Foundation

When Philadelphia art collector Albert C. Barnes chartered the Barnes Foundation in 1922, his passion led him to the goal of teaching everyone in the community how to look at art. With this goal in mind, he offered public access to his vast collection of Impressionist, post-Impressionist, and modern paintings. These works took him over three decades to acquire and feature works from world-famous artists such as Picasso, Matisse, Cézanne, and Renoir.

After Barnes commissioned French architect Pail Philippe Cret to design a complex for sharing his art collection, the Barnes Foundation officially opened on March 19th, 1925. The Barnes Foundation now also houses paintings and other works of art by European, Native American, and African artists, as well as antiquities from China, Egypt, and Greece.

Barnes Foundation Gallery
Courtesy of the Barnes Foundation

Everything the Barnes Foundation Has to Offer

Over the years, the Barnes Foundation has evolved from its original collection. In addition to the growing collection of various forms of art from all over the world that is now worth an estimated $25 billion, the Barnes Foundation Museum offers art education classes, special exhibitions, and family-friendly social events and tours that make it a true community treasure in an accessible location.

Adult Education Courses

If you love learning more about the art you enjoy, the Barnes Foundation is a fantastic resource. Albert C. Barnes believed studying art was valuable to both the mind and spirit. For nearly 100 years, the Barnes Foundation has been offering art education to its community partners in solidarity with Barnes' philosophy that art education should be accessible to everyone.

The classes offered at the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia change monthly and are taught by practicing artists, art historians, curators, and conservators. The classes address a wide range of topics, from learning how to interpret the beauty of art to contextualizing ancient Greek art, and even an ongoing certificate program.

Temporary Exhibitions

Something's always changing at the Barnes Foundation; that's what keeps it so exciting. From film installations to murals, the Barnes Foundation isn't just about the Impressionists of the 19th century. You'll always be surprised by something new in the special exhibitions whenever you visit the Barnes Foundation.

Tours of the Galleries

Barnes was an avid collector, and taking in this vast collection can seem daunting without help. The Barnes Foundation offers daily tours so that you can relax and enjoy the beauty of the art while listening to intriguing and valuable information.

Tour lengths, depth, prices, and available hours vary. A one-hour Highlights Tour is perfect for first-time visitors as well as returning guests who want to know more about the collection. It focuses on the Barnes Foundation’s history and origins, major paintings, and the theory behind Dr. Albert Barnes's unique display of works. Private tours are also available for smaller groups; be sure to plan ahead for these, because reservations are required, and tours must be requested at least four days in advance.​ . This one-hour tour is led by a professionally trained docent and is available for you and up to seven guests. Your docent will explore the highlights of Barnes' collection in depth and help you learn the history of these world-famous paintings. Audio tours are also available to download if you're on a budget.

Barnes Foundation Dance
Photo by Michael Perez. Courtesy of the Barnes Foundation

Art Collection Full of Modern Paintings From Picasso, Cezanne, and Matisse

So, how many paintings does the Barnes Foundation Museum have? The museum is home to over 900 paintings, including:

  • 7 Van Gough paintings
  • 18 Rousseau paintings
  • 21 Soutine paintings
  • 46 Picasso paintings
  • 59 Matisse paintings
  • 69 Cézanne paintings
  • 181 Renoir paintings

It's difficult to overstate just how much Barnes adored the artists of the 19th century. You'll understand his love for Impressionist and post-Impressionist art when you walk through room after room to view up close the floor-to-ceiling paintings that will inspire and bring you to a time when art thrived throughout Europe and America.

How You Can Save on Admission Tickets

With the expense of tours, accommodation, dining, and transportation, it would be nice to give your wallet a break, right? There are so many things to see and do in Philadelphia that it can be challenging to remain on a budget-friendly itinerary. That's why CityPASS® tickets are here to help you create a Philadelphia experience that takes you all around the city while saving you money.

Travelers who purchase CityPASS® tickets enjoy flexible admission offerings and access to Philadelphia's best attractions. You can choose between visiting three, four, or five attractions around the city and save up to on admission costs when you purchase one of our curated bundles.

Start with Barnes Foundation tickets and then head to places like the Adventure Aquarium, the Museum of American Revolution, The Philadelphia Zoo, the Franklin Institute, and much more when you plan your trip with CityPASS® tickets.

Nearby Lodging

To get the most out of your stay in Philadelphia, we recommend finding lodging near Philadelphia's top attractions like the Barnes Foundation. Use this map to find the right lodging for you:

Header image courtesy of the Barnes Foundation.

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