The Native Tourist
reformed/biblical observations on Christianity and culture

Monday, September 24, 2007
My Visit to the Barnes
The year was 1980 as far as I can tell.

I was visiting my sculptor friend Tim who lived in Media, Pa., just outside Philadelphia. He offered to take me to this quirky little museum that I simply had to see. At the time I was deeply interested in modernism. My favorite painter was Cezanne and I loved Impressionism and Post-Impressionism. Tim knew this and took me to one of his favorite haunts.

The museum was tucked away on a side street in a very wealthy suburb on the Main Line. It looked like any of the other mansions on the street - tucked behind the hedges as I recall. The museum was open only a couple of days a week. We got there early to ensure that we could get in. The admission price was $4 dollars. Exact change was required! And cameras and backpacks were abolutely forbidden.

What I saw when we went inside was mildblowing. The museum was stuffed with great art. There were dozens of Cezannes, two or three - maybe more - rose and blue period Picassos, murals by Matisse, a masterpiece by Seurat. It went on and on. The quirky rules and hodge-podge way of hanging the works didn't really bother me. It was, all in all, a delightful experience.

Now, the Barnes is on the verge of moving to new digs in central Philadelphia. This may enable more people to see Mr. Barnes great and quirky collection. I am glad I was able to experience what is was like when the Barnes was below the radar and behind the hedges.