Second Homes

Details on Barnes Foundation's New Location

The Barnes Foundation, which has called its famously unconventional twelve-acre arboretum in suburban Merion, Pennsylvania home, is finally making its long-awaited (or dreaded) move to Philadelphia’s Benjamin Franklin Parkway—but not before the Philadelphia Art Commission approves its architectural plans. The museum’s collection ranges from Renior, Cézanne, Matisse, Gauguin, Monet, Picasso, and Van Gogh has been headed for its future destination for the past seven years, but the Barnes submitted its design for its new home from New York architects Tod Williams and Billie Tsien on October 7. With a projected move in date of 2012, the Barnes new Parkway building may lack the charm and eccentricity of its previous Merion quarters, but will afford visitors longer viewing hours and a conventional café and bookstore. However, Williams and Tsien made certain the Barnes did not fall victim to the convention museum layout. The design allows for the replication of the original unusual style in which the Barnes’ paintings are hung, with the exception of Matisse’s “Joy of Life,” to be displayed in its own alcove. The pair also replicated the Merion building within the new structure, updating it with a Negev limestone called Ramon Gray Gold in an asymmetrical African pattern, and a wall French windows opening onto the lawn, albeit a third of the original’s size.