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The Barnes Foundation

One of the world’s foremost collections of French impressionist and post-impressionist paintings

Barnes Foundation

The Barnes Foundation on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway in downtown Philadelphia. Credit: Photo © Tom Crane courtesy the Barnes Foundation


The Experience

The 93,000-square-foot, two-story building, designed by architects Tod Williams and Billie Tsien, is described as a “gallery in a garden, a garden in a gallery.” With a textured grey-and-gold Ramon limestone exterior and a glass canopy that glows at night, the breathtaking building serves as one of the key anchors of the Parkway Museum District.

Set on four-and-a-half acres of landscaped grounds, the museum boasts sustainable features including a green roof and permeable surfaces that allow for rain and grey water re-use.

But the true draw is the Barnes’ permanent collection, featuring 181 Renoirs, 69 Cézannes and 59 Matisses, along with works by Manet, Degas, Seurat, Prendergrast, Titian and Picasso — one of the world’s largest collections of Impressionist, Post-Impressionist and early Modern paintings and African sculpture.

The 12,000-square-foot gallery space devoted to the collection preserves the scale, proportion and configuration of the Barnes’ original Merion location. The priceless works are carefully, and often symmetrically, arranged according to size and paired with artifacts and furniture (think: African sculpture, Pennsylvania Dutch folk art, antique Chinese paintings) organized around aesthetic themes and formal elements. The scheme is the physical manifestation of the teachings of the man who collected the works, Dr. Albert C. Barnes.

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First Friday

Unwind at the Barnes every first Friday of the month from 6 to 9 p.m. Relax with cocktails, live music, inspiring talks and after-hours access to the world-famous collection and special exhibitions. For a complete listing of upcoming events and to purchase tickets, click the button below.

Upcoming Events

Free First Sundays

On the first Sunday of every month, visitors to the Barnes Foundation can enjoy free admission from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. Each Free First Sunday, the Barnes hosts family entertainment, informative talks, performances and hands-on activities. Tickets include access to the permanent collection galleries, exhibitions and any programs taking place that day.

Free tickets to the collection are available on-site beginning at 10 a.m. and are limited to four per person. Tickets are limited, are claimed fast and cannot be reserved in advance. Note: Attendees do not need a ticket to enjoy the free family activities and performances.

Free First Sundays are presented by PECO.

More on Free First Sunday


The Barnes Foundation was created in 1922, a school originating with Dr. Albert Barnes’ educational experimentation in his Argyrol (pharmaceutical) factory. Barnes and the Foundation’s first director of education, John Dewey, were interested in fostering cognitive development through new approaches to education, and in heightening critical-thinking and problem-solving skills through the study of art. Barnes, like Dewey, was actively engaged in the development of an intellectual framework and educational philosophies and practices with many of the best artists and thinkers of his day.

In 2004, a court ruling granted permission for the Barnes Foundation’s gallery art collection to move to a new building on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway in Center City Philadelphia.

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