A Gallery in a Garden, a Garden in a Gallery

A Gallery in a Garden, a Garden in a Gallery

Gallery in a Garden, Garden in a Gallery

Entering into the Barnes Foundation off the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, you may notice the beautiful landscaping and the extensive plantings that surround the building. Although the art draws a lot of attention, the Foundation has more than one collection in its care, and the plants you see in Philadelphia draw inspiration from the living collection at the twelve-acre Arboretum in Merion, where the art collection was also previously located.

Merion site plans

Todd Williams and Billie Tsien, the architects, worked closely with Laurie Olin, who oversaw the design, to create a cohesive composition for the landscaping of the Philadelphia campus that reflected similar ideas and attitudes to the Merion Arboretum.

At both sites, the entrance to the grounds is flanked by prominent cedars, marking a powerful boundary between the hectic urban environment and the park-like campus of the Barnes. This prominent feature is just one of many similarities between the two campuses.

Red Japanese Maples near the entrance

Japanese Maple Japanese Maples 
Merion: Acer palmatum ‘Bloodgood’ Parkway: Acer palmatum ‘Bloodgood’


Limestone in the landscape

Merion Facade Parkway facade
Merion: French limestone  Parkway: Israeli limestone


Fern Collections

Merion Ferns Parkway Ferns
Merion Parkway


Water features

water lillies rock pool
Merion: Pond   Parkway: Reflecting Pool


 Architectural sculpture by contemporary artists

Jacques Lipschitz Barnes Totem
Merion: Jacques Lipschitz  Parkway: Ellsworth Kelly


Many other plants used on the parkway make reference to collections or plantings in Merion. These include Stewartia trees; Aesculus parviflora, or bottlebrush buckeye, a deciduous flowering shrub; Franklinia, a flowering tree; Rhododendron, a woody plant with showy flowers; Kalmia, or mountain laurel; and Sarcococca, or sweetbox, a flowering evergreen groundcover.

Members are invited to visit the Merion campus during one of the upcoming tours to reconnect with the Arboretum’s rich and diverse roots.

To learn more about the Foundation’s horticultural programs, visit www.barnesfoundation.org/education/horticulture.

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