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“Enjoyable and quirky”

The Barnes Foundation
Ranked #2 of 428 things to do in Philadelphia
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Recommended length of visit: More than 3 hours
Owner description: The Barnes Foundation houses one of the finest collections of nineteenth- and twentieth-century French painting in the world. An extraordinary number of masterpieces by Renoir, Cezanne and Matisse provide a depth of work by these artists that is unavailable elsewhere. Established as an educational institution, the Barnes carries out its mission teaching classes in its galleries and Arboretum.
Reviewed July 23, 2013

We went to the Merion site a thousand years ago. Very odd, yet challenging in a good way. Some of the ensembles were baffling. "What was he thinking?" By design (and an embattled will) the museum froze Dr. Barnes' collection in time. The wonderful new setting (think "a building housing a building") improves public spaces and lighting and made the works more prominent. Thoroughly enjoyable for what it is. I did not mind the very involved security people--one clown touched a painting just seconds before security could remind him to "step behind the dark line." Reservations are limited--I would avoid 10:30am next time because there seemed to be several groups booked. I hope other TA reviewers might recommend better times. Leave the big bags/backpacks behind.

Thank Motowners
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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"new building"
in 220 reviews
"amazing collection"
in 257 reviews
"impressionist art"
in 182 reviews
"original location"
in 103 reviews
"lower merion"
in 57 reviews
"private collection"
in 111 reviews
"van gogh"
in 222 reviews
"docent tour"
in 111 reviews
"art lovers"
in 119 reviews
"each piece"
in 66 reviews
"great art"
in 101 reviews
"love art"
in 68 reviews
"benjamin franklin parkway"
in 50 reviews
"beautiful building"
in 76 reviews
"on display"
in 77 reviews
"second floor"
in 47 reviews
"timed tickets"
in 44 reviews

3,936 - 3,940 of 4,861 reviews

Reviewed July 23, 2013

Terrific special event lunch with my family last month. Meal was good, not spectacular. Sitting next to the gardens made for a great spot to spend time and share a meal.
Staff was solid and made up for a delay by bringing over an assortment of desserts.
A nice treasure and you don't have to go into the museum to access the restaurant area.

Thank Bobwphilly
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 22, 2013

This is a magnificant collection and well worth the visit. Parking was easy and the tickets were timed to prevent it from getting too crowded.

1  Thank SABTravels
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 22, 2013

I visited the Barnes as part of a teacher workshop at the PMA. We were put into groups of about 15 and given a docent-led hour-long tour. An hour was nowhere near enough time to take in the abundance of paintings, metalwork, furniture, handicrafts, etc. in this collection. And in a group size of 15 there were almost too many of us in any given room at one time; it became very difficult to maneuver around to see all of the art. That being said, the collection is remarkable, the stories of Barnes' life, ascendancy to premier art collector, and the subsequent stipulations he put on his estate are incredibly interesting. Our docent was very informative, albeit a bit rushed and feeling pressed for time to get us through everything in an hour (which was impossible to do, in the end).
I tried to go back and visit the Barnes several months later on one of their Pay-What-You-Will Sundays, but by the time I got there (an hour after it had opened), they'd already sold out for the day, so that was frustrating.
Basically, if you want to see this expansive collection of art (which, amazingly, is on display exactly as it was in Barnes' home in Merion) I suggest you arrange for tickets well in advance, go on a docent-led tour if possible (I didn't take the audio tour, so I can't comment on its quality), and expect that one afternoon will not afford you the amount of time you'd need to take in all of the art.

Thank JJ484
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed July 21, 2013

I went here a couple weeks ago on a visit to Philly, and I was actually really surprised at how pleasant the experience was. I didn't do any research on the museum (I just knew it held many Post-Impressionist paintings), so I didn't know that all of the rooms are those that were put together by one man. I really liked how he specifically put in traditional American furniture to accent the paintings on each wall. He also coordinated the paintings in a very interesting way, and it was fun to sit and think about what the though process behind it was.

However, it was much more crowded than I expected. It wasn't quite as crowded as it was when I went to the Louvre and D'Orsay museums last summer, but close. I kind of had to fight to get a good look at some paintings, which was made worse because the rooms are quite small. It is definitely not for the claustrophobic.

Their website suggested to make a reservation, so I did so. The free audio guide was a plus. I spent about three hours of my day here.

Thank MGM1123
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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