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Violette de Mazia Foundation and the Barnes Foundation to Unify Their Educational Programs at the Barnes

April 15, 2015

Philadelphia — Joseph Neubauer, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Barnes Foundation, and Jerome Bogutz, Esq., President and member of the Board of Directors of the Violette de Mazia Foundation, are pleased to announce that the Violette de Mazia Foundation has been granted permission by the Montgomery County Orphan’s Court to affiliate its art appreciation education programs with the Barnes Foundation. The Barnes-de Mazia Education Program will be based at the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia. As part of the affiliation, the Violette de Mazia Foundation will transfer approximately $8 million to the Barnes Foundation to create the Barnes-de Mazia Education Endowment Fund, dedicated to supporting and expanding education programs at the Barnes Foundation, including scholarships, an annual Violette de Mazia Lecture, and a fellowship for a scholar to research the theories, writings, and teaching practices of Albert C. Barnes, Violette de Mazia, and John Dewey. In addition, the archives of the Violette de Mazia Foundation will be added to the archives of the Barnes Foundation.  

"Perpetuating the educational programs developed by Albert C. Barnes, Violette de Mazia, and John Dewey has always been at the heart of the mission of the Violette de Mazia Foundation,” said Mr. Bogutz. “Uniting our programs and housing them at the Barnes will expand their reach and secure their future as well as ensure permanent recognition for the important role Violette de Mazia played in education at the Barnes Foundation."

The Barnes-de Mazia courses provide extraordinary access to the masterpieces in the Barnes Foundation. Students study art and aesthetics in rigorous programs based on the teachings of Albert C. Barnes, Violette de Mazia, and John Dewey, which encourage students to read art as an artist does and to study its formal elements. This method of teaching students the language of art makes art accessible wherever it is encountered.

“The Barnes Foundation and the Violette de Mazia Foundation share a commitment to art appreciation and aesthetics, as well as to maintaining structured multi-year education programs based on those methods jointly developed by Albert C. Barnes, Violette de Mazia and John Dewey,” said Mr. Neubauer. “The unification of the education programs of the Barnes Foundation and the Violette de Mazia Foundation will lead to an expansion of educational programming at the Barnes, and help to advance its mission through robust programming and outreach.” 

In its first joint program, the annual Violette de Mazia Lecture will be inaugurated at the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia on Sunday, April 26, from 2–3 pm. The lecture features Richard Wattenmaker, a widely recognized authority on late 19th- and early 20th-century modern art, as well as a former student of Violette de Mazia, and a former instructor at the Barnes Foundation. Wattenmaker will discuss the artist Chaim Soutine. Tickets are free. Registration is required online, or by calling 215-278-7200. Barnes-de Mazia courses will begin in the autumn of 2015.


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. 


The Violette de Mazia Foundation is an arts education institution that delivers and sponsors programs and activities that teach an objective approach to art appreciation and encourages students to use their senses to see the qualities that make a painting a work of art, rather than relying on written descriptions. The Foundation is based on the belief that education is a lifelong activity of growth, development, and change; that life and art are inextricably linked; and that enriching this aspect of our lives is a prerequisite to developing an engaged society. Since its establishment in 2005, the Violette de Mazia Foundation has enrolled and reached out to students from all walks of life; from academics, senior citizens, to young students, prison inmates, wounded veterans and individuals with special needs.

Violette de Mazia came to Philadelphia in 1924 to teach French at Miss Sayward’s School, and in 1925 she began to tutor Dr. Barnes and executives at the A.C. Barnes Company in French, while at the same time enrolling in the Barnes courses in art appreciation and philosophy. Over the years she collaborated on many projects and publications with Dr. Barnes, and contributed significantly to the Barnes courses and the Foundation’s philosophy of education. In 1950, Ms. de Mazia became Director of Education at the Barnes Foundation, and served in that capacity until her retirement in 1987.  Upon her death in 1988, the Violette de Mazia Trust was formed to support and perpetuate the educational program to which she had devoted so much of her life.  The Violette de Mazia Trust became the Violette de Mazia Foundation in 2005.



Deirdre Maher, Director of Communications 215.278.7160,