On the first Friday of the New Year, Philadelphia art enthusiasts gathered at the Barnes Foundation to celebrate and remember Dr. Albert C. Barnes. This dedicated art collector was born in the city of brotherly love on January 2, 1872. A true renaissance man, he was a doctor, chemist, writer, businessman, educator, and philanthropist. How do you celebrate the 142nd birthday of a man who left such a legacy of art?
The galleries opened from 6-9 pm to members and anyone who could snag a $25 ticket before the event sold out. As a lover of music who provided scholarships for many young students to learn at prestigious music academies, Dr. Barnes had very eclectic taste and appreciated everything from classic Mozart to soulful African American spirituals. To honor his distinct musical taste, a string quartet and a tabernacle choir filled the grand hall with joyous sound that surely would have had Dr. Barnes dancing and humming in his grave.
My roommate and I attended this 142nd birthday bash for only $12.50 thanks to a deal on uwishunu.com. We enjoyed gourmet cupcakes provided by Whole Foods and a very expensive but delicious cheese assortment before exploring the nearly empty galleries. Note: when there is a cash bar and drinks are not permitted in the galleries, you are guaranteed to have an unobstructed view of the art for approximately the length of time it takes to finish a glass of wine.
As it was my second trip to the Barnes and my roommate had never been, I took it upon myself to be her tour guide. We started in the main room on the first floor, where the sheer volume of paintings is enough to make your head spin. My technique for absorbing everything was to embark on two rounds of art viewing: a strategic speed-through followed by a slow perusing. This way, the shock of the amount of artwork could be absorbed in one fell swoop so that during round two, one could actually linger and appreciate the collection.
Some personal highlights of the collection are Van Gogh’s House and Figures and Still Life and Matisse’s Blue Still Life and La Joie de Vivre (pictured above). Each room of the museum is home to artwork of different eras and regions, showing that Dr. Barnes’s taste in art is as eclectic as his taste in music.