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First Reviews of New Philly Barnes Are In: Philadelphia Inquirer, Vanity Fair

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Inga Saffron, architecture critic, Philadelphia Inquirer

First reviews are always highly important. They are often very influential in setting the tone of the future conversation. And now the early reviews of the Barnes are in.

The Philadelphia Inquirer was given an advance look and the finished facility, and flooded the zone with architecture writer Inga Saffron, cultural reporter Stephan Salisbury and art critic Edward Sozanski (here, here and here, respectively). As the newspaper of record for the Barnes Foundation’s new home city, the Inquirer was appropriately given privileged access.

More surprisingly, architecture critic Paul Goldberger got inside early for Vanity Fair, and gave the place a rave review, here.

Saffron also posted an additional piece about the challenges and controversies faced by architects Tod Williams and Billie Tsien in taking on this hot-button project. She interviewed me extensively for that piece and quoted me twice.

You can hear my more detailed preliminary commentary about the architecture in my CultureGrrl Video, posted last fall, here. (I must remember to touch base again with Melvin the hot-dog stand man, when I revisit later this month with the rest of the scribe tribe.)

Thanks to the Inquirer, you can now see the new Barnes for yourself—in an astonishing 87-image slide show. The above-linked articles and several other background pieces are part of a special Barnes section that will run in the hardcopy newspaper tomorrow, but you can read the whole thing online now, here.

Sozanski answers one question that’s been on my mind: What’s going to be displayed in the Barnes’ new special-exhibition gallery? The answer is a bit of a letdown:

The inaugural exhibition will be drawn from the foundation’s assets,
mainly art from storage (don’t expect too much from this source) and
from the former Barnes residence next to the Merion gallery, which was
used for administrative offices, and from the archives.

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