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The Barnes-de Mazia Method

Violette de Mazia in the Merion gallery with Georgia O'Keeffe, 1941. Photograph by Pinto Studios. Photograph Collection, Barnes Foundation Archives

Close looking and direct engagement with works of art in the Barnes collection galleries has been at the core of the Foundation’s curriculum since its founding. 

Courses that teach the Barnes-de Mazia method provide extraordinary access to the Barnes and are rooted in the original teachings of Dr. Barnes, Violette de Mazia, and John Dewey.

In April 2015, the Barnes 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.

About Violette de Mazia 

Born in Paris, de Mazia (1899–1988) taught French in England before moving to Philadelphia in the early 1920s. Shortly thereafter, she began to tutor Dr. Barnes and his staff at the A. C. Barnes Company. At the same time, she enrolled in the Barnes Foundation’s course in art appreciation and philosophy.

In 1926, Dr. Barnes offered de Mazia a position at the Foundation. Over the years, she was hugely influential to the Barnes's education philosophy. In 1950, shortly before Dr. Barnes’s death, de Mazia was appointed director of education for the Foundation. She served as a trustee from 1935 to 1966, when, after Mrs. Barnes’s death, she became the vice president of the Board of Trustees. De Mazia taught at the Barnes until her retirement in May 1987.