The Barnes….interpreted

The Barnes AdmissionThree weeks ago, we were in Philadelphia with a large group of Tigers for a long weekend that culminated in a visit to The Barnes Foundation, founded in 1922 by Dr. Alfred Barnes.

 Dr. Barnes by de ChiricoLocated in Merion PA, a short 5 miles from downtown Philadelphia, the original building was designed by Paul Cret in classical style within a 7-acre arboretum.. Dr. Barnes amassed a collection of over 2500 objects. Over 800 are paintings with an estimated worth of $25 billion, including 181 Renoirs, 65 Cezannes, 55 Matisse and 46 Picassos. The fascinating story of Dr. Barnes is found in “The Devil and Dr. Barnes”.

The Art of the StealNot without a lot of controversy, the museum moved to central Philadelphia in 2012. “The Art of the Steal, a 2000 documentary, tells the tale. Or click on this link for some of that story   As engrossing as the book, the movie and the NYT are, the story I want to tell is about the remarkable building designed on the Parkway by Todd Williams and Billie Tsien.

c Billie Tsein

c Billie Tsein

At a presentation by The Barnes’ Director of Development, I was totally captivated by this eloquent sketch concept of the two museum buildings, old and new. It is a perfect form of interpretation showing the Merion building as “gallery in a garden” and interpreting it on the Parkway as a “garden in a gallery”. Bingo. Not a copy but an interpretation of an historic building.

c David Brownlee

c David Brownlee

“Two Buildings One Mission” by David B. Brownlee is the story of relationships between the Merion building and the center city building  and the steps that brought their plans to fruition. The details are fascinating.

Barnes Entrance Reflecting PoolThe pathway to the main entrance is flanked by reflecting pools. Landscape designer Laurie Olin embellished and complimented the architecture of the building.

Early Model of the BarnesThe theme of a ‘garden within the building’ can be seen in this early architectural model showing translucent shapes which eventually would manifest themselves as interior garden spaces.

Barnes Inner GardenToday, this garden space is open to the sky and is surrounded by the glass walls of the library and the visitor assembly space.

Barnes Pottery Wall Barnes WAiting WallThe visitor space is home to a collection of beautiful southwestern pottery whose colors are reflected on the opposite wall.   It is probably the latent interior designer in me that likes these thoughtful details.

Barnes Light Court WallThe central ‘Light Box’  is the major thoroughfare to the galleries and filled with repetitive patterns creating a rhythmic flow space and texture. The large serene spaces contrast with the tightly packed galleries, as set out by Dr. Barnes, and maintained exactly today even to the same light exposure as they had in Merion.

Barnes Negve Limestone chiseledInside, the ‘Roman Gold’ limestone panels, from the Negve desert in Israel, are warm, softly colored and hand chiseled with different patterns.

Felted Silk and wool panelsBarnes Silk and wool panelsThe felted textile panels above the stone were specially made by Claudy Jongstra, a Dutch textile artist. As the light changes across them, they lend a subtle color and textural difference to the chiseled limestone as well as offer some sound baffling.

Floor PatternsBlack and White Patterns sofasThe architects were inspired by the African decorative arts in the collection which show up in the design of floor tile patterns and the low benches of visitor seating.

Barnes Outer CourtyardBarnes and the CityDeceptively simple plantings frame the building’s relationship with the center of Philadelphia. When next you go to Philly, do pay a visit. You won’t be disappointed.


Posted in Art and Flowers, The Barnes Foundation | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Centennial flower power

Flowers at Hawk HillIf you like to arrange flowers, there is nothing more wonderful to be invited to show up and design.

Gorgeous abudanceAll the materials from JK and MR were beautifully grown and conditioned – ready, set, go! What fun!

 Garden GloryVases were 8” heavy class cylinders, filled with a variety of conifers which acted as the pinholders, looking beautiful while supporting all the stems.

 Black-eyed SusansThe bounteous garden flowers included pink, orange, red, and yellow dahlias,

Red dahlias and pink pholxWhite (tinged with pink) cosmos, tiny daisies, yarrow

 Pink DahliasSolomon’s seal foliage, coleus, perovskia

Dahlias and ColeusSedum, goldenrod, hydrangea

Jewels of OphirAsters, Jewels of Ophir, helenium

 All pink among the coffee cupsWhat’s left in the garden? Thanks to everyone who made things beautiful!


Posted in color schemes, floral design ideas, floral designs, flower arrangements | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Centennial chapeaux

Happy Birthday 100th cakeWhat nicer way to celebrate the Centennial of Millbrook Garden Club with an elegant lunch at the Millbrook Golf and Tennis Club? Over 80 members and guests came to hear Amy Freitag, our excellent speaker,  and to enjoy the delicious lunch that followed.

 Piano with chapeauxAnd hats were the order of the day!! Most members wore hats garnished with flowers, fruits or vegetables. Some kept their hat on long enough to have their picture taken before placing it on the piano!

Delectable Garden DahliaMore Dahlias on a Garden Hat Red Dahlia hatHome-grown dahlias graced many hats. These magnificent blossoms looked stunning in a variety of colors and they held up well for the day.

 Blue crown and flowersA beautifully colored hat with a periwinkle crown and blue flowers.

Violet FascinatorMore blues and violets in a galax trimmed fascinator.

 Hand-painted hatA straw cloche delicately hand-painted by a former MGC member.

 Gentleman Planter's HatVegetables were not forgotten with the broccoli band and kale feather on this gentleman’s planter hat.

Hops and Crops VisorHops and crops embellish this imaginative visor.  A vegetable wonderland!


Posted in Floral Hats, Garden Club of America | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment