It was a gorgeous October day, and some of the foliage in the Barnes Foundation’s arboretum had shaded into amber. The last roses of the season were in bloom. Chrysanthemums lined the drive. There were plenty of other flowers, too, but I didn’t know their names – no more than a typical Barnes visitor knows the titles of the unlabeled masterpieces that hang, salon-style, in the gallery here.

This was to be my last visit to the old Barnes, a place I had come to know well. The Merion institution created by Albert C. Barnes (1872-1951) is being replaced, in part, by a museum slated to open on Philadelphia’s Benjamin Franklin Parkway in the spring of 2012. The 12-acre arboretum in Merion will remain a laboratory for the foundation’s well-respected horticultural program. But the Barnes’s unparalleled collection, along with its art-education classes, will move to the new building downtown, with more amenities and presumably more visitors to enjoy them.


Julia M. Klein