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Barnes Foundation Builds on Founding Vision with Expanded Education Program

Philadelphia — Building on Dr. Albert C. Barnes's groundbreaking approach to teaching visual literacy, the Barnes Foundation announced today an expansion of its pioneering education program for adults. The Barnes–de Mazia Education Program launched this month, introducing new course offerings to complement the Barnes method, reduced fees, and need-based full scholarships to improve access to the program. Plus, in cooperation with the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA), students will have the opportunity to receive undergraduate academic credit for selected classes they take at the Barnes.

"Dr. Barnes felt it was his privilege and responsibility to enrich the lives of others by inviting them to experience firsthand the transformative power of great works of art," said Thom Collins, executive director and president of the Barnes Foundation. "Education has and always will be at the heart of everything we do at the Barnes Foundation. It's an honor to extend Dr. Barnes's vision into the future with an expanded program that reflects the core values of our institution."

Martha Lucy, deputy director for education & public programs and curator, explained that "Barnes developed a unique approach to teaching about art that was grounded in pure visual engagement with the object. His students learned how to look closely at form, acquiring visual skills that could be brought out into the world. We will continue to teach that approach alongside an array of new courses that explore the collection from different angles—bringing in history, social history, and politics. These courses all happen in the galleries, in the midst of some of the greatest works in the history of art."

The program builds on the original teachings of Albert Barnes, Violette de Mazia, and John Dewey, which emphasize the formal analysis of art and reflect progressive education philosophies of the 1920s. The new curriculum has expanded to include other interpretive approaches: classes based on historical context and classes that explore materials and techniques. The Barnes–de Mazia Education Program will be taught by artists, art historians, and conservators on the Barnes staff and faculty at local universities.  

Course Offerings
The courses highlight topics ranging from European modernism to African tribal sculpture and take place in the Barnes's Collection Gallery so students can engage directly with works of art. Classes are organized into three categories; categories II and III contain classes being offered for the first time.

Category I: The Barnes Method emphasizes close visual analysis in object-based courses, evolved from the teachings and writings of Albert Barnes and Violette de Mazia.
Category II: Understanding Materials and Techniques
focuses on the physical aspects of how art is made.
Category III: Art in Context approaches art as a reflection of history, culture, and politics.

Certificate Program
September 2016 also marks the official launch of the integrated Barnes-de Mazia Certificate Program, a two-year track offering an immersion in the Barnes Method and an introduction to more contemporary interpretive approaches. The three Category I courses in the certificate program (The Elements of Art, The Traditions of Art, and Collections Concentration) are eligible for college credit through PAFA.

Need-based full scholarships for individual classes are being offered for the first time. Five scholarships per class are available. In addition, two Violette de Mazia Scholarships are available each year for students committed to completing the Barnes-de Mazia Certificate Program. Forty-six scholarships have already been awarded for fall 2016 classes. For more information and for spring 2017 submission deadline:

The costs for courses have been cut. Details on fall 2016 courses, admissions, and enrollment are available at

The Barnes-de Mazia Education Endowment Fund
In April 2015, the Barnes Foundation and the Violette de Mazia Foundation announced a plan to affiliate their education programs and establish the Barnes–de Mazia Education Endowment Fund. The Fund is dedicated to supporting and expanding education programs at the Barnes Foundation, including scholarships, an annual Violette de Mazia Lecture, and a fellowship for scholars to research the theories, writings, and methodology of Albert Barnes, Violette de Mazia, and John Dewey. This program expansion is among a series of initiatives being introduced as part of the affiliation with the Violette de Mazia Foundation. De Mazia was hugely influential to the Barnes's education philosophy as a principal collaborator of Barnes's and Dewey's and as Director of Education of the Foundation from 1950 to 1987.


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

Chelsea Beroza, Resnicow and Associates