On May 19, the new state-of-the-art Barnes Philadelphia museum wing opens with over 15,000 sf of indoor and outdoor space located in the heart of Philadelphia’s cultural corridor. The calm and subtle design of this modernist building is nothing like the stormy journey of a collection that includes works of Cezanne, Renoir and Matisse.
Jury is still out on whether Dr. Albert Barnes would be thrilled about the new space. For decades, the doctor’s private art collection—one of the country’s most valuable—was displayed in the family home in Lower Merion with strict provisions in place to keep it that way after the doctor’s passing. After years of legal wrangling, the City of Brotherly Love took possession of the collection following a court decision and populist battle that put Rocky Balboa’s ring rumbles to shame.
The Collection’s integrity remains intact, including the proprietor’s unusual juxtapositioning of artists and styles. What is different is the light-infused shell they are presented in. The soaring L-shaped limestone building contains all functions perfectly suited for all types of events inside the library, meeting rooms and classrooms. The 150-pax auditorium, located on the lower level, offers state-of-the-art A/V capabilities while the multi-purpose meeting space features two 65” flat touch-screen panels with simulcast capabilities from the auditorium.
The partially covered terrace, located off the central court, is a jaw-dropping option for 175-pax receptions overlooking the mesmerizing gardens of the neighboring Rodin Museum.