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#SeeingtheBarnes

About the Campaign

Discover why after every visit, you’ll never stop seeing the Barnes.

With thousands of diverse works arranged without labels or categories, the Barnes invites you to think for yourself, make surprising connections, and speak art’s universal language. We've invited community partners to participate in our #SeeingtheBarnes campaign by selecting a painting from the Barnes collection that speaks to them.

Meet Val

Valerie Gay is the Barnes’s deputy director for audience engagement and chief experience officer. She oversees public and community programs, leads the guest and protection services team, and works to deepen the Barnes’s connections with visitors and the community. “I believe that anyone can find something in the Barnes collection that relates to their own personal story,” she says.

Val’s team manages the Barnes’s many community partnerships, including Barnes @ LoLa 38, an arts collaboration with the People's Emergency Center in West Philadelphia, and Puentes a las Artes, an art-based biliteracy program with Puentes de Salud in South Philadelphia. These programs reflect her belief that arts institutions have to be “radically welcoming and radically hospitable” to truly be positive environments for all.

When asked to choose paintings from the Barnes collection, Val was drawn to portraits that express self-possession and confidence. “I love how they all show the same qualities differently—in their eyes, the turn of their lips,” she says. She also cites the importance of representation and identity. “There’s personal choice in how one can be captured; even when you think you don’t have a choice, you still have some kind of power over your own personhood.” Val ultimately chose Glackens’s Armenian Girl because of the subject's confidence and agency. “She knows who she is,” Val says.

How We Did It

See how we paired Val’s image with her chosen artwork.

Val displays her chosen works.

Val sitting for her portrait.

Comparing Val’s portrait with one of her chosen artworks, Head, by an unidentified 16th-century artist.

Val ultimately chose William James Glackens’s 1916 painting Armenian Girl.

The final ad pairing. Val's verdict: “This image reminds me of what femininity is to me: a mixture of strength and gentleness.”

More Community Partners

Meet our partners who have participated in the campaign so far.