The Barnes Foundation



300 North Latch's Lane Merion, Pennsylvania 19066

tel. ; 610-667-0290


©Yoko Yamazaki

Hours: Friday, Saturday, Sunday (September-June) 9:30a.m.-5:00p.m.  Summer: Wednesday, Thursday, Friday  (June and August) 9:30 a.m.-5:00 p.m.

Admission: $5.00

Audio tour: $7.00

Reserved parking: $10.00


 "The mission of The Barnes Foundation is to promote the advancement of education and the appreciation of fine maintain an art gallery of works of ancient and modern art, in connection with an arboretum...for the study of arboriculture and forestry. "

              -Albert C. Barnes


©The Barnes Foundation

 This is truly one of the most unique places on earth - the Gallery and Arboretum are a celebration of life, art and creativity.

 The Barnes Foundation houses one of the finest collections of French early Modern and Post-impressionist paintings in the world. An extraordinary number of masterpieces by Renoir, Cezanne and Matisse provide a depth of work by these artists unavailable elsewhere. The collection includes works by Picasso, Seurat, Rousseau, Modigliani, Soutine, Monet, Manet, Degas and others. Art from around the globe is grouped with fine examples of antique furniture, Ceramics, hand-wrought iron, and Native American jewelry. The Barnes Foundation is much more than an art collection. It is the vibrant reflection of a life inspired by humanity and creative expression.

The Foundation was established in 1922 by Dr. Albert Coombs Barnes to "promote the advancement of education and the appreciation of the fine arts."


©Yoko Yamazaki


Albert Barnes was born in a working-class Philadelphia neighborhood in 1872, and attended Central High School. As a youngster, he attended revivals with his mother who was a devout Methodist. It was at those religious retreats that Barnes developed an appreciation for African American culture, creative expression and the transformative power of the arts. This connection would resurface in later Years and have a lasting impact on the man and his work.

 Barnes received his M.D. from the University of Pennsylvania Medical School. Following the development of a new silver compound with scientist Hermann Hille, the two formed the firm of Barnes & Hille in 1902. Their antiseptic product, Argyrol, formed the basis of Barnes' fortune. Barnes bought out his partner and by 1908 had established manufacturing and marketing facilities in the United States, United Kingdom and Australia.

Henri Matisse  ĒJoy of Life"

© The Barnes Foundation


 Barnes had many other interests. His extensive study in psychology, Philosophy and art led him to form his own theories about art and education. He began to exercise a unique combination of his concepts and his compassion for the working man with his burgeoning interest in the arts. He initiated educational discussion groups among his employees and was soon hanging his newly acquired paintings in his factory to be studied and discussed by his workers.

Barnes' distaste for inherited privilege and his respect for the common man fed the fires of his interest in industrial relations, self-improvement, and equal rights for African Americans. His desire to provide nondiscriminatory access to art and education led to the creation of The Barnes Foundation in 1922. The great, twentieth century Philosopher, John Dewey, was The Foundation's first director of education and remained Barnes' life-long friend.

Cezzanne "Card Players and Girl"  

© The Barnes Foundation


Barnes and his wife him purchased a 13-acre arboretum near Philadelphia that would be the site for the Gallery designed by the French architect, Paul Cret. Completed in 1925, the galleries housed the art collection installed by Barnes to illustrate his many theories of aesthetics, and the universal elements and traditions he felt were evident in all art forms. Classes for artists, teachers and lay people were conducted in the galleries as they are today. 

In 1940 Mrs. Barnes established the Arboretum School to provide students of horticulture, botany and landscape architecture the opportunity to Work under professional guidance. Selected and arranged for their aesthetic value, the plants in the Arboretum illustrate characteristics such as form, texture, seasonal change and floral display, complementing the Gallery. One of the most noteworthy features of the Arboretum is the great diversity of species and varieties growing on such modest acreage. The collection contains rare and mature plants and includes a woodland, collections of crabapples, magnolias, peonies, and more than 200 varieties of lilacs.

Mattisse  `Dance`

© The Barnes Foundation  



Some of the most important works of art in the last 100 years hang in The Barnes Foundationís Gallery, including Matissís Joy of Life and The Dance, Cezanne's Nudes  in Landscape and Card Players &Girl Renoir's After the Concert and The Artistís Family and Seuratís Models.


Education Programs

The ideas Barnes and Dewey developed were progressive and innovative in the 1920's and continue to be successful methods of education for all ages. Education, according to The Barnes Foundation, involves the interaction between people add the environment, which is an ever evolving process. This process leads to a genuine experience and to the expansion of the range and accuracy of perception. The Barnes Foundation provides the environment as the basis for an exciting and unique educational experience. Applications are accepted for the programs Year-round. The academic Year begins in September and ends in May.


The Barnes Foundation

©Yoko Yamazaki

Horticulture an Approach to Art 

The three-Year Program emphasizes personal experience and interactive learning through study in the l2-acre arboretum. The curriculum includes a history of gardens, botany, horticulture, landscape design and architecture as well as pruning, propagation and planting techniques.

The seminars and discussion groups at Barnes' factory evolved into the systematic, objective study of art that is the basis for classes conducted at The Barnes Foundation. The first year of the two-year program introduces Students to the vocabulary of studying visual art through the utilization of a method created by Dr. Barnes together with John Dewey. The student learns to make objective observations and engage in individual inquiry. The second Year builds on the foundation constructed in the first Year, with an exploration of the traditions and history of art. The seminar course is an optional third Year in which the student has the opportunity to explore a particular area of interest through research and application of the methodology, Culminating in a formal paper and presentation.