New Barnes sets admission hours and prices

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Once the hoopla of its grand opening has subsided in May, the Barnes Foundation will be open six days a week, Wednesday through Monday, from 9:30 in the morning until 6 at night.

Single adults will shell out $18 for a ticket to enter the new gallery, opening officially to the general public May 19 on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.

A series of opening events will culiminate in 60 hours of round-the-clock free public access over Memorial Day weekend, May 26 to May 28.

After that the new pricing structure kicks in.

"The general admission prices and the membership benefits are in line with our sister institutions," said Andrew Stewart, a Barnes spokesman.

Memberships, which carry free admission and other benefits, begin at $90.

The Philadelphia Museum of Art, a few blocks away, charges $16 for adult admission, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts on North Broad Street charges $10 ($15 for special exhibitions), and the Franklin Institute on Logan Circle charges $16.50.

Various surcharges usually add an additional $2 to $3 to museum admissions. The Barnes will not add any such fees.

Barnes members may already begin to acquire tickets. The general public must wait until March 15.

The new Barnes pricing is about the same as final admission prices in the Merion galleries, which closed last summer in preparation for the move to Philadelphia. Merion tickets were subject to surcharges, Barnes officials said.

Questions of pricing and gallery hours have been part of lengthy legal wrangling and dispute swirling around the Barnes for a quarter of a century. Foundation officials in the 1980s and 1990s sought to raise the $5 admission price, expand gallery hours, increase the number of visitors, and embellish the use of the gallery space, home of Albert Barnes's priceless collection of Renoirs, Matisses, Cezannes and other Impressionist and early Modernist art.

But Barnes, who died in a car accident in 1951, envisioned his foundation as an educational facility and sought to strictly limit its use, setting out very specific rules of operation in founding documents.

As a result, foundation officials ran into increasingly dire financial straits, and sought more flexibility of pricing and hours. They were opposed in that effort by Barnes enthusiasts and local officials.

A 2004 Montgomery County Orphans' Court ruling allowed the foundation to move its collection to Philadelphia.

 


Contact culture writer Stephan Salisbury at 215-854-5594, ssalisbury@phillynews.com, or @SPSalisbury on Twitter