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“Wow!”

The Barnes Foundation
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$31.99*
and up
Philadelphia Hop-On Hop-Off City Tour
Ranked #2 of 433 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.
Lynchburg, Virginia
Level Contributor
41 reviews
16 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 20 helpful votes
“Wow!”
Reviewed April 20, 2014

The collection at the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia is amazing. Try to go at less crowded times so that you can take your time and absorb the enormity of this private collection. The impressionists are well represented especially Renoir, Cezanne, and Matisse. This is a collection which needs to be revisited multiple times in order to appreciate it. The gift shop is well done and has many lovely things in all price ranges.

Visited April 2014
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Thank Anita M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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New York City, New York
Level Contributor
551 reviews
120 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 235 helpful votes
“Make a reservation / well worth the effort”
Reviewed April 20, 2014

Apparently, Mr and Mrs Barnes loved art and travel. Their walls are filled with pieces you know.

What makes this place so different and special is the staff and the sounds.
The staff is engaging and delightful - like they are sharing their special collection with you. It must break their hearts when they cannot accommodate you so please make a reservation. Unless you are a member, you cannot just arrive without a pre/booking!
You will hear docents chatting and children looking for special pieces on a treasure hunt. You'll hear people talking about art. This is not a quiet museum.
With a beautiful library, an easy coat check, an well stocked museum shop, I could have stayed for hours more. While there, I learned that the first Friday of every month brings more special events so log on to learn more.

Visited April 2014
Helpful?
Thank Stylelust
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Santiago, Chile
Level Contributor
186 reviews
53 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 107 helpful votes
“The most impressive private collection I've ever seen”
Reviewed April 19, 2014

I've been to art museums and private collections all over the world, and I've never seen anything quite like the Barnes Foundation. Barnes was loaded and he liked art, so naturally he went every year to Paris to collect. Over time he managed to accumulate 181 paintings by Renoir, 69 by Cezanne, 60 by Matisse, 44 by Picasso, and the list, which includes the likes of Van Gogh, Monet, Manet, El Greco, Rousseau, Courbet, Titian, and dozens of other well-known artists, goes on. The collection used to be at Merion, Pennsylvania, well outside of the city of Philadelphia, but a couple of years ago was moved to a new building near both the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Rodin Museum, making it much more accessible to the public (for example, I took the train from Washington and walked from 30th Street Station). The collection is not displayed as in a traditional art museum - there are no signs indicating the artists name, the title of the work, or information about the paintings (although each room has booklets with this information). Instead, paintings are hung close together in "ensembles," in groupings which Barnes himself selected. The idea is to focus on the art rather than on words written about the art. I took a docent-led tour, which I highly recommend. The docent was knowledgable, articulate, and compelled her charges to participate in the discussion of the art. There was a small shop selling books, prints, postcards, etc. They had a beautiful book on Renoir at the Barnes Foundation. If they'd had one on Cezanne, I would have bought it. The "masterworks of the gallery" book was interesting but not particularly well bound and quite small. I had a sugar cookie in the coffee shop which was delicious. My only real complaint was with the website. I tried to book my ticket there but it just spun its wheels. Clearly this is a common problem, because I was on hold for a long time when I called to book. However, the person I talked to was very friendly and helpful and I had no trouble booking a ticket for the 10:30 tour. Unfortunately my train was delayed by 2 hours so I missed the time, but when I called the number back they were able to change my ticket to the 3 PM tour. What an amazing experience. Well worth the price of admission, as well as the price of a train ticket to Philly.

Visited April 2014
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Los Angeles, CA
Level Contributor
369 reviews
181 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 290 helpful votes
“New Barnes Building in Philadelphia”
Reviewed April 19, 2014

The stately old Barnes in Merion has been replaced by a stylish modern edifice just blocks from the Philadelphia Museum of Fine Art. Inside, the art collection seems the same, if a little bit more of it. (Some works we didn't remember.) Unfortunately, perhaps in an effort to compromise during the controversy of the move (violating Dr. Barnes' posthumous requirement that the art collection stay put in Merion), the museum has chosen to eschew wall labels in favor of the old metal tags that indicate the artist but not the artwork itself. Since the artwork is hung salon style, many of these tags are difficult to see. For more info, visitors need to consult the readily available booklet in each room or listen to the audio guide (free with admission) that highlights only selected works.

Prevalent are paintings from the French impressionists and post-impressionists--Cezanne and Matisse in greatest number--with beautiful little watercolors by the American, Demuth, placed here and there. The museum contains three floors with most of the artwork on floor one. The basement houses the museum shop, the community work room, sitting areas, and bathrooms. The third floor continues the collection to its end. There's also an exhibition space on the main floor which allows the museum to show non-Barnes work.

The architects have tried to balance a new monumental scale with the intimacy of the original building. Mostly successful but still a bit odd. Worth a visit to see many works not otherwise available, I particularly liked a number of Matisse paintings of a small size not usually seen elsewhere and, of course, the famous large murals he painted to fit into a specific large area of the old museum and which are now transplanted here.

Visited April 2014
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Thank GEDLosAngeles_CA
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Level Contributor
15 reviews
3 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
“Do not miss the opportunity!”
Reviewed April 19, 2014

What an amazing collection of art all in one place. The Barnes has one of the best collections I have seen. There is so much to take in I recommend planning a few hours for your visit.

Visited November 2013
Helpful?
Thank bwk848
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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