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The Barnes Foundation Launches Corporate Professional Development Program, Centered on Barnes Collection

Research, Education, Adaptation, and Development (READ) Praxis: One-of-a-kind professional development program for corporate groups

Philadelphia, PA, October 7, 2019—The Barnes Foundation has launched the Research, Education, Adaptation, and Development (READ) Praxis, a new professional development program for corporate audiences that uses the Barnes collection to help companies improve and empower teams, train employees, and inspire creativity in the workplace. Developed by the Barnes’s adult education team and the Curci Group, with critical guidance from Jann Schwarz, global director of the B2B Institute at LinkedIn and member of the Barnes Foundation’s Ambassadors Board, the program’s curriculum is tailored to meet a variety of corporate professional development needs.

Chemist, entrepreneur, and art collector Dr. Albert C. Barnes first used his growing collection of impressionist, post-impressionist, and early modernist masterpieces to teach visual literacy and critical-thinking skills to the workers in his Philadelphia factory. Today, the Barnes has nearly 1,000 adult education students enrolled across 50 classes, many of which are taught inside the collection galleries among masterpieces by Paul Cézanne, Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, and Vincent van Gogh. Barnes instructors make art accessible, relevant, and useful for personal and professional development, and for READ Praxis participants, the collection galleries offer a creative space separate from the office environment, where new ways of thinking are encouraged, and a diversity of perspectives can be explored.

“Dr. Barnes believed that direct engagement with art was a path to continuous self-improvement, and we see today’s companies trying to provide such opportunities to encourage both personal and professional development for their employees,” says Nina Diefenbach, senior vice president and deputy director for advancement. “We strive to offer programs for our diverse group of donors and members that best serve their needs and goals, and we believe the READ Praxis program will serve as a valuable resource for our corporate members.”

“With the Barnes corporate membership program among the top 10 largest of any art museum in the country, we are highly cognizant of the priority placed on talent management and professional development in companies across the nation,” says Will Cary, senior director for annual and corporate giving. “Our goal was to create a program that would aid companies in this essential work, and we are thrilled to roll out the READ Praxis program, which offers employee enrichment and empowerment to the corporate community.”

With corporate goals ranging from the practical—fostering effective communication or diversity and inclusion training—to the abstract—reinforcing shared values or promoting adaptiveness—six different curriculum modules have been developed, including: “Productive Conflict: Critical Feedback and Creative Friction,” “Consensus Building and Decision-Making,” and “Innovation: Lateral Thinking for Breakthrough Solutions.” Modules can be customized to meet the specific needs of a company or team. Each session lasts 90 minutes, half of which is spent directly in front of artworks in Barnes collection galleries.

“The READ Praxis program is a natural continuation of the Barnes educational tradition that reaches back to its founding, when Dr. Barnes introduced artworks and key texts in philosophy and the traditions of art to his Philadelphia factory workers,” says William Perthes, Bernard C. Watson Director of Adult Education. “Dr. Barnes believed that direct engagement with and discussion about art could improve individuals’ critical-thinking skills and their ability to learn and succeed in general. The READ Praxis curriculum we have developed is rooted in the education program Dr. Barnes founded together with Violette de Mazia and John Dewey, and the collection provides an ideal forum for this essential professional development work.”

READ Praxis program sessions can accommodate up to 18 people. This intimate group size is ideal to ensure engagement with the art, Barnes faculty, and fellow team members. Special pricing and scheduling priority will be given to companies enrolled in the Barnes Foundation’s Corporate Council program. Half-day and full-day options are available.

The Barnes Foundation is a nonprofit cultural and educational institution that shares its unparalleled art collection with the public, organizes special exhibitions, and presents programming that fosters new ways of thinking about human creativity. The Barnes collection is displayed in ensembles that integrate art and objects from across cultures and time periods, overturning traditional hierarchies and revealing universal elements of human expression. Home to one of the world’s finest collections of impressionist, post-impressionist, and early modernist paintings—including the largest groups of paintings by Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Paul Cézanne in existence—the Barnes brings together renowned masterworks by such artists as Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Amedeo Modigliani, and Vincent van Gogh, alongside ancient, medieval, Renaissance, and non-Western art as well as metalwork, furniture, and decorative art.

The Barnes Foundation was established by Dr. Albert C. Barnes in 1922 to “promote the advancement of education and the appreciation of the fine arts and horticulture.” Since moving to Philadelphia in 2012, the Barnes has expanded its commitment to teaching visual literacy in groundbreaking ways, investing in original scholarship relating to its collection, and enhancing accessibility throughout every facet of its program.

The Barnes is open Wednesday–Monday, and tickets can be purchased on-site, online, or by calling 215.278.7200. Ticket prices and current hours are listed on our website.

Deirdre Maher, Director of Communications
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