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“My favorite collection”

The Barnes Foundation
Ranked #1 of 1 things to do in Merion
Attraction details
Reviewed December 14, 2012

but I will not support thievery. The idea that they would spends tens of millions to recreate the finest art museum in the world just so they could leave it an empty shell is preposterous, ludicrous and approaching evil.

1  Thank Hovard
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed December 14, 2012

The design of the new museum building on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway (one of the most beautiful avenues in the world, in my opinion) is pedestrian and sterile, and that is a shame. However, the art collection inside remains both stunning for its quality and infuriating for the absurd and inadequate way in which it is displayed.
It is often very difficult to actually see many of the individual paintings, because they are displayed in terribly cluttered design groups, as mandated by Dr Barnes. He had his own curious views about similarities and compatibilities of line and color, and his will stipulated that the paintings be displayed exactly as he wished them to be. Among other things, he didn't wish to clutter his walls with such nonessentials as the names of each work's artist, dates, and titles. So the viewer who want this information needs to borrow one of several pamphlets in each gallery room and try to locate the information for himself. Some information about some of the paintings are included in the iPod museum guide you can rent at the front desk.
And lots of luck in trying to sort out the wonderful works of some of the greatest European and American masters of impressionism, post-impressionist, and early modern art, juggled together with African sculpture, Pennsylvania German decorative arts, Native American textiles, metalwork, and more. Really, Good Grief, Charlie Brown.
Instead of the joy it might be, a visit here winds up a pretty frustrating experience, and we leave after going no more than half-way through because we are overwhelmed with sensory overload and--frankly--annoyance. So I have awarded it three stars overall, with great regret, because the collection of impressionist and post-imprsssionist art is so fine it would be rated off the charts, if only it could be sorted out and enjoyed as it ought to be seen.

1  Thank kaygee38
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 8, 2012

Tickets have to be purchased in advance. You must check coats and bags (even purses) over a certain size downstairs, so do that when you come in. There is a guard who will kindly direct you to do so and who will search bags you are carrying into the exhibit area. I came from Baltimore with friends for the day. There was such an abundance of art, that eventually, it was overwhelming and we didn't visit all the rooms. There are no descriptive plaques next to the pictures. Each room has brochures (look for the slots in the benches) with some basic information on each painting in the room (artist, date). Only one of my party got the audio guide, which has details on selected paintings. I would definately recommend that option and will be doing that when I go back the next time. I also thought parking was expensive, but I had done a web search for parking before hand and found a garage (near Whole Foods) that was $7/day. Since we wanted to walk around and see more of Philadelphia as well as dine out, after our drive, that was a much better option.

Thank ddemara
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 1, 2012

Incredible collection of art housed in a unique space. It is unbelievable how many special painters are represented in this collection. You can be awed and overwhelmed!

Thank Bonnie Z
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed November 29, 2012

If the stated goal of making Barnes' collection to the masses was true, then my initial impression of the steep $15 charge for parking seemed to be contradictory to that. I also found the Merion location much easier to get to; driving into the city through the mazes of one-way streets (not to mention the sketchy surrounding neighborhood) did not make my trip to the new Barnes a pleasant experience. The outside design of the building seemed cold and sterile, and not welcoming like the Merion campus. Sure, they did a semi-decent job of replicating the interior gallery spaces, but why? What could possibly be the point of recreating what already existed? If the "donors" and "charitable trusts" were so interested in saving the Barnes collection from financial ruin, basic logic would dictate that their millions should have gone towards repairs and an endowment for the original, rather than to attorneys and new architects to create the new one. Is the collection still brilliant? Of course. Does the new campus detract from the experience? Definitely. As the title states, what a waste.

3  Thank Dave D
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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