About the Film

WHYY's special 60-minute TV documentary on the Barnes Foundation for the new PBS Arts Summer Festival series is set for broadcast Friday, August 3, 2012 at 9 p.m. The Barnes Collection tells the story of Dr. Albert C. Barnes and his noteworthy, priceless art collection, considered among the world's greatest, and detail the design and construction of the new Barnes building in Center City Philadelphia.

Established in 1922 as an educational institution, the Barnes Foundation's art collection houses more Cezannes than all the museums in Paris and features the world's largest collection of works by Renoir. The 3,000-plus-piece collection is regarded as housing the greatest collection of Post-Impressionist and early modern art as well as American and African art and sculpture.

The collection's true value is incalculable, and for decades the Barnes Foundation was largely inaccessible. The Barnes Foundation is moving its Gallery Collection from suburban Merion, Pa., to a new location in Philadelphia opening May 19 with a 10-day celebration. The new campus will provide expanded public access to its distinctive collection and education programs.

The Barnes Collection uses the relocation and renaissance of the Barnes Foundation as a vehicle for telling the story of the quirky, quarrelsome, question mark of a man, Dr. Albert C. Barnes, and his astounding art collection.

Television, stage and screen actor David Morse, nominated for three Emmys and most recently recognized for his starring role in the television series "Hack," will serve as the voice of Dr. Barnes in The Barnes Collection.

The Barnes Collection will introduce viewers to the internationally renowned team responsible for designing and constructing the new building on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, including Derek Gillman, Barnes Foundation president and executive director; architects Tod Williams and Billie Tsien; landscape architect Laurie Olin; and lighting designer Paul Marantz. It will reveal the creative process of the design team and cast light on its plans for and drawings and models of the campus under construction. "WHYY is thrilled to bring public television audiences nationwide an up-close look at one of the world's finest art collections," said Bill Marrazzo, WHYY president and CEO. "This represents a special opportunity for Philadelphia to join cities such as Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco as centerpiece locales in the PBS Arts series. And, of course, this is a special opportunity for WHYY to share with the country a program of high quality, consistent with the standards of WHYY and the PBS Arts series."

Glenn Holsten, a former WHYY staff producer who produced the 2002 PBS documentary Thomas Eakins: Scenes from Modern Life, will serve as producer, and WHYY executive producer Trudi Brown will oversee the project in her existing capacity.

The documentary will enable viewers to experience intimate and significant moments — including the tension between ideals, ideas and function — in the creation of the new Barnes Foundation campus through tours of the new space and revealing interviews with the curators and other members of the design team.

The film will help tell the story about Dr. Barnes and the unique period in art history in which he lived and collected via a focus on a few key pieces in his collection. By showcasing those pieces, the philosophy behind Dr. Barnes' collection and his methods of displaying works in ensembles will be explored. The Barnes Collection will also feature digital animation, which will take viewers from Merion through the architect's drawings to the Parkway location.

At its heart, The Barnes Collection is about the art. High-definition footage will bring viewers close to the works — so close that viewers will be able to discern the weaving of the canvas and see brushstrokes. The Barnes Collection will enable viewers to focus on what great gifts to humankind the works represent and remind viewers that the art is what endures.


Thank You

Presenting sponsor:   Wilmington Trust, an M&T company    And additional support from:   

Comcast NBC Universal   |   Shire   |   William Penn Foundation   |   PBS   |   Lynne and Harold Honickman


Photographs of Dr. Barnes courtesy of Photograph Collection, Barnes Foundation Archives.
Barnes Foundation on the Parkway images (c) 2012 Barnes Foundation.