If you've ever wanted to explore the Barnes Foundation with an unconventional guide, now's your chance. Tonight, the Barnes opens a new series called Barnes Jawn(t)s that hands over tour-guide duties to local artists, community leaders, and, in one case, a comic-book nerd. The series runs through Aug. 21.
Tonight's two inaugural tours will be led by Madhusmita Bora, a classical Indian dancer, and Ashley Vogel, a staff member with the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia.
Future tour guides include Elicia Gonzales, a queer Latinx social worker, and Ariell R. Johnson, the owner of Amalgam Comics & Coffeehouse, the only black-woman-owned comic book store on the East Coast.
"We are always looking for new, innovative ways for guests to connect with the collection and draw inspiration from it," said Kathleen Greene, the curator of public programs at the Barnes. "No two tours will be the same, and we're excited to see what the guides come up with."
Bora, who co-directs the Sattriya Dance Company, said that because the style of her art is highly structured, she was excited to come up with something a little more improvisational for tonight's tour. "I don't know what I'm going to discover with my group," she said. "But I'm just going to run with it and have fun."
She said that she's always admired how Albert C. Barnes made breaking down barriers an important part of his collection's mission. "I connect to that on a deeper level — the idea of getting art to the people," she said.