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Changes at the Barnes Include a New Chief Curator from the Musée d'Orsay

Ensemble view, Room 1, south wall, Philadelphia, 2012. Photo © 2016 The Barnes Foundation
The Barnes Foundation opened its Center City campus in 2012.

In fall 2015, the Barnes Foundation announced that more than one million visitors had passed through its doors on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. But the enriching impact of art isn’t necessarily confined to a single space. WRTI’s Meridee Duddleston speaks with recently appointed Chief Curator Sylvie Patry to find out how the incomparable collection hopes to expand its rooted reach.

Meridee Duddleston spoke with Sylvie Patry at the Barnes Foundation on February 16, 2016.

Radio script:

Credit Keristin Gaber, © 2016
Sylvie Patry is the new Deputy Director for Collections and Exhibitions and Gund Family Chief Curator at the Barnes Foundation.

Meridee Duddleston: There’s an old French expression: "Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose." The more things change, the more they remain the same.  An apt aphorism for the set ensembles of priceless art on the walls of the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia, but off the mark in other important ways: new exhibitions, possibilities, and new faces populate the place. 

Sylvie Patry: There is really a kind of unique situation, a combination of masterpieces, great works, great collections and a lot of research that needs to be done, a lot of stories which need to be told.

MD:  And that’s why the Barnes’ new chief curator Sylvie Patry moved to Philadelphia after spending a decade as chief curator of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings at the Musée d’Orsay in Paris. How does the key overseer of a collection confined to home approach its illuminating potential?     

SP:  When we do an exhibition here at the Barnes, it’s really the only place when the gathering of the works would be able to happen. So we will try to work at this and the idea is to relate the exhibition programs to the collections. The idea is also to invite people to come in, especially scholars, to study the collection…to publish. As we can’t go out of the walls of the Barnes Foundation, we will try to bring people within the walls of the Foundation.

MD: And that should facilitate new findings, connections, and stories that reverberate beyond the confines of the incredible artwork.