Barnes gallery to open in Philadelphia on May 19, 2012

Barnes gallery to open in Philadelphia on May 19, 2012

The Philadelphia Inquirer

Stephan Salisbury
Inquirer Culture Writer
September 16, 2011

The Barnes Foundation museum on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway will officially open May 19, becoming only the second home of the remarkable collection of impressionist and early modernist art in the foundation's 89-year history, Barnes officials announced at a news conference on the Parkway Thursday.

The opening will be followed by 10 days of special visits to the new building and gardens, concluding with 60 hours of free, round-the-clock open access to the public on Memorial Day weekend, May 26 to 28, officials said.

Designed by Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects of New York, the $150 million Parkway museum between 20th and 21st Streets will also serve as home to the foundation's well-known educational program.

The original Merion facility, designed by Paul Crét, will remain the home of the foundation's aboretum and related programs. The foundation's archives and conservation work also will be there. The art galleries in Merion closed on July 3 in preparation for the move to Philadelphia.

Barnes officials also announced that PNC and Comcast Corp. would support a variety of activities during the first year on the Parkway. Derek A. Gillman, Barnes executive director and president, called the support "immensely generous," but declined to say just how immense.

Overall fund-raising for the Parkway construction project and an endowment surpassed the $200 million mark this summer.

Gillman said Comcast was particularly interested in supporting "broad public access" to the museum. PNC, he said, is interested in creating new educational programs for very young children.

"The idea for early childhood is new for us, but we're embracing it enthusiastically," he said.

Bill Mills, PNC regional president for Philadelphia and South Jersey, said PNC was working with the Barnes to create "an early art education program" that he believed "can become a national model."

The foundation also presented a newly redesigned website Thursday - - that will allow Internet visitors to determine ticket availability at any time and also provide greater virtual access to the foundation's renowned collection of works by Renoir, Matisse, Cezanne, and other giants of modern art.

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