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Archives Exhibition

Matisse, Dr. Barnes, and The Dance

Until August 7, 2023

Historic photographs and letters reveal the story behind the monumental mural.


Henri Matisse using a bamboo stick to sketch The Dance in his studio in Nice (detail), 1931. Unidentified photographer. Photograph Collection, Barnes Foundation Archives, Philadelphia

Free with admission; on view on the Lower Level

About the Exhibition

In 1930, Albert Barnes commissioned Henri Matisse to create a mural spanning the length of the collection's Main Gallery. It was a massive, complicated project—much larger than anything Matisse had ever done—and over the next several years it would test the patience of both artist and client. Through archival photographs and letters between Dr. Barnes and Matisse, this exhibition presents a behind-the-scenes look at the evolution of this extraordinary work of art.

On view on the Lower Level.


Matisse, Dr. Barnes, and “The Dance” is made possible, in part, by support from the Family of Albert H. Nulty, Elie Abemayor, Linda and Donald Adams, Nancy Dillard Barth, Frances and Michael Baylson, Joan S. Blaine, Carole and Jack Schultz, and other generous individuals.