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Online Class: Decoding Barnes’s Ensembles

The Barnes Method / Online

Saturdays, October 3 – October 24, 9 – 10:30am


Ensemble view (detail), Room 19, south wall, Philadelphia. © The Barnes Foundation

$220; members $198
(4 classes)

*We encourage you to watch the lectures live, but classes can be streamed anytime after the live session ends. See our FAQ.

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About the Class

Learn why Dr. Albert Barnes arranged his collection in such an unconventional way, mixing paintings, sculptures, and household objects from different cultures and periods into groupings he called “ensembles.”

These meticulously designed ensembles were an important part of Dr. Barnes’s educational method: they prompt the viewer to look deeply and carefully to find visual relationships between incongruous objects. They are also works of art in their own right—an early form of installation art.

In this course, we’ll do a close study of several groupings, analyzing the surprising analogies Dr. Barnes highlighted; we’ll also consider the way contemporary installation artists encourage the same out-of-the-box looking.

Each week, the main lecture will be followed by an optional small-group discussion session that allows students to ask questions and exchange ideas. These 40-minute sessions, moderated by the instructor or a teaching assistant, take place Saturdays, October 3–24, between 11:20 am and 1:30 pm. You will be automatically assigned a time slot once you enroll.


Molly Walker

Walker received her MA in museum administration from the University of the Arts in 2013 after completing the Barnes-de Mazia Certificate Program as well as coursework in museum education at the Guggenheim Museum. She is an art instructor at the Barnes and an adjunct professor at Lincoln University.