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About

Education is at the heart of everything we do at the Barnes Foundation.

Our Commitments

The Barnes Foundation strives to mirror the diversity of the Philadelphia regional population in its exhibitions, education offerings, public programs, and audiences. The Barnes actively seeks to build a diverse Board, staff, and stakeholder community, recognizing that an ongoing commitment to diversity and inclusion is integral to its excellence and success.

Core Beliefs

Our founder, Dr. Albert C. Barnes, understood that art had the power to improve minds and transform lives. In accordance with his vision and values, the Barnes Foundation believes that:

  • All people are capable of learning to appreciate and enjoy art, and doing so can be a life-transforming experience.
  • Engaging with art is not an esoteric activity, but one that has practical application to personal and intellectual development.
  • Art has a meaningful role to play in the service of improving society.
  • Diversity and inclusion are necessary parts of all our activities.
  • Our material assets must be preserved according to the highest possible standards so they may be enjoyed by the generations to come.

Our Commitments to Diversity, Equity, Accessibility, and Inclusion

The Barnes Foundation’s commitment to accessible education and to diversity, inclusion, and social justice is central to our mission: to promote the advancement of education and the appreciation of the fine arts and horticulture. In recent years, the Barnes has worked to fulfill the aspirations of Dr. Barnes by bringing the transformative power of art into our local communities and creating programs to welcome diverse audiences to visit our galleries.

To realize the Barnes’s commitment to accessible education and to diversity, inclusion, and social justice, we have expanded relationships with our vibrant network of local partners—including the School District of Philadelphia, the Free Library of Philadelphia, People’s Emergency Center, Philadelphia Parks & Recreation, and Puentes de Salud—and collaborated on creative initiatives both on-site and in the neighborhoods we serve.

Our special exhibitions reflect our mission in a variety of ways. Some engage with the art and artists represented in our galleries while others, to place those works in context, feature artists of Dr. Barnes’s time that he overlooked. Many of our exhibitions honor Dr. Barnes’s commitment to racial equality and social justice, celebrating artists who are Black, indigenous, people of color, women, and those who did not have access to formal art education.

Recent exhibitions include Water, Wind, Breath: Southwest Native Art in Community, exploring Pueblo and Navajo pottery, textiles, and jewelry as living traditions; Suzanne Valadon: Model, Painter, Rebel, spotlighting the controversial artist who broke new ground with her unapologetic portraits and nudes; Elijah Pierce’s America, celebrating the remarkable work of the self-taught woodcarver (2020); Berthe Morisot: Woman Impressionist (2018), a landmark exhibition dedicated to the only woman who exhibited in every one of the impressionist exhibitions; and Mohamed Bourouissa: Urban Riders (2017), in which the artist explored a North Philadelphia community’s efforts at neighborhood revitalization and youth empowerment.

You can find out more about accessibility and inclusion at the Barnes, including accommodations for visitors, on our Accessibility page. We also provide detailed information for visiting with disabilities in our Plan Your Visit section.

Land Acknowledgment

The Barnes Foundation is situated in Lenapehoking, the ancestral homeland of the Lenape people. We acknowledge and honor their enduring relationship to this land and commit to serving as responsible stewards of it, guided by their knowledge and culture. All Lenape people—those still in the region, and those driven from it by European and American colonizers—are welcomed back to this piece of their homeland, and we invite all people to join us with the Lenape and other Indigenous peoples to build a more inclusive and equitable learning space for present and future generations.