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The Barnes Foundation Announces Barbara Wong as Its First Director of Community Engagement

Philadelphia — The Barnes Foundation today announced the appointment of Barbara Wong to the newly created position of director of community engagement. With more than 25 years of experience in public arts education, Wong joins the Barnes from Providence CityArts for Youth, a nationally recognized community-based arts organization serving at-risk children, where she served as executive director for 16 years. She has begun working part-time at the Barnes and will assume her full-time post in July 2017.

As part of the Barnes’s commitment to engaging a broader audience, Wong will oversee family and community outreach initiatives, as well as forge partnerships with like-minded organizations around Philadelphia. She will also lead efforts to improve accessibility in programming and content delivery for people with disabilities.

“It is my pleasure to welcome Barbara, a dynamic arts educator who has dedicated her career to empowering underserved communities and catalyzing social change by providing greater access to the arts and education,” says Thom Collins, executive director and president. “Barbara is an ideal fit for this new position, which was created to deepen the Barnes’s impact on the lives of residents and students we serve across Philadelphia.”

Wong brings experience from her roles as program officer at the Rhode Island Foundation, Board member of Providence Public Schools—where she served as a mayoral appointee—and director of summer programs for the Rhode Island School of Design’s Continuing Education program.

“I have shaped my career toward building a future where creativity and social change are drivers of how we engage and learn about one another in society,” says Barbara Wong. “I’m inspired by the Barnes Foundation’s social integrity, vision, and excellence in arts, and look forward to drawing on my spectrum of experience to help it succeed in building relationships with Philadelphia’s diverse communities and beyond.”

Wong earned a BFA from Cornell University and an MA in art education from the Rhode Island School of Design. She has taught art education and non-profit arts management courses at the Rhode Island School of Design and the RISD Museum, and in 2016 she served on the National Endowment for the Arts ArtWorks Grant Review Panel. Wong is also a gubernatorial appointee to the Rhode Island Commission on Women and a member of the National Art Education Association and the National Guild for Community Youth Arts Education.


The Barnes Foundation was established by Albert C. Barnes in 1922 to “promote the advancement of education and the appreciation of the fine arts and horticulture.” The Barnes holds one of the world’s finest collections of impressionist, post-impressionist and early modern paintings, with extensive works by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Paul Cézanne, Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Henri Rousseau, Amedeo Modigliani, Chaim Soutine, and Giorgio de Chirico; works by American masters Charles Demuth, William Glackens, Horace Pippin, and Maurice Prendergast; Old Master paintings; important examples of African sculpture; Native American ceramics, jewelry, and textiles; decorative arts and ironwork; and antiquities from the Mediterranean region and Asia. 

While most collections are grouped by chronology, style, or genre, art at the Barnes is arranged in ensembles structured according to light, line, color, and space—principles that Dr. Barnes called “the universal language of art.” The Foundation’s programs include First Fridays, young professionals nights, tours, tastings, and family programs, as well as Barnes–de Mazia Education Program courses and workshops. These programs advance the Foundation’s mission through progressive, experimental, and interdisciplinary teaching and learning. The Barnes Foundation 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. 

The Barnes Arboretum in Merion contains more than 2,500 varieties of trees and woody plants, many of them rare. Founded in the 1880s by Joseph Lapsley Wilson and expanded under the direction of Laura Leggett Barnes, the living collections include 40 state champion trees, a Chinese fringe tree (Chionanthus retusus), a dove tree (Davidia involucrata), a monkey-puzzle tree (Araucaria araucana), and a coast redwood (Sequoia sempervirens). Other important plant collections include lilacs, peonies, Stewartias, ferns, medicinal plants, hostas, and magnolias. The Horticulture Education Program has offered a comprehensive three-year certificate course in the botanical sciences, horticulture, garden aesthetics, and design since its establishment in 1940 by Mrs. Barnes. The arboretum also offers horticulture workshops and lectures and is open to the public Saturday–Sunday during the summer months. 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

Adriana Elgarresta, Resnicow and Associates

Chelsea Beroza, Resnicow and Associates