Uncover the Barnes Foundation

If you are an art lover who is planning a trip to Philadelphia, your trip will be pointless without visiting the Barnes Foundation.

The Barnes Foundation is a definite must-see for art enthusiasts from all walks of life. Whether you are in a group or alone, their docent-led tours are ideal for avid learners.


Founded in 1922, this foundation is the brainchild of Dr Albert Coombs Barnes.

According to the foundation's website, Dr Barnes (1872 - 1951) believed that art has the power to improve minds and transform lives.

To this day, the foundation stays true to its founder’s beliefs. Its motto states,“ the advancement of education and the appreciation of the fine arts and horticulture."

While Dr. Barnes became of the most avid art enthusiasts of his time and went on the own one of the most legendary art collections, he initially took a different path.

He was born into a working-class family but soon proved to be an exception. He attended the Central High School before studying medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.

He is also the co-inventor of silver-based antiseptic Argyrol. It is true this invention that he made the fortunes he would later invest in his passion, art.

The Barnes Foundation is a true story of self-discovery and passion which started in 1912 and continues to this day.

What to expect from the Barnes Foundation

From humble beginnings, the Barnes Foundation has come a long way. In 2012, the foundation opened the doors to its state-of-the-art building.

This new and improved facility is the home to a 12000 square foot gallery and expanded learning and educational facilities, special exhibition accommodation and visitor amenities.

The collection of art at Barnes includes furniture, painting, sculptures and others masterpieces from both known and unknown creators.

There is a range of traditional and non-traditional pieces. The impressionist, post-impressionists and early modernist painting are made available for viewing.

There are paintings dating back to the days of Dr Barnes assembled between 1912 and 1951. Pieces include Renoir, Cézanne, Matisse, and Picasso.

There are also distinct pieces of Native American Pottery and jewellery, Pennsylvania German furniture, African Art, American avant-garde paintings, and wrought-iron metal work.

Best times to visit

You and your group can visit Barnes at almost anything convenient to the group. It is worth noting that they are not open on Tuesdays.

Further, be sure to plan your trip up front to ensure you can cash in on some of the various ways of saving a dime here and dime.

For example there are special prices for larger groups, free access for certain groups; like children under 12 and Philadelphia teachers.

There is also free access to available to members of the foundation.

When in Philadelphia be sure to stop by, as many visitors have recounted, the collections are stunning.