Inspiration From The Masters

The Barnes Foundation Philadelphia Art Museum

The Barnes Foundation

Travel Tip: Begin your Philadelphia art and culture tour at Le Pain Quotidien, (translated from French to English, “the daily bread”), a Belgium bakery and restaurant, only a brief walk to The Barnes Foundation. Photos by Joan Mead-Matsui unless otherwise noted. 

Why are we so fascinated with museums? If you can’t answer that question immediately, watch this video clip from my afternoon at The Barnes Foundation to jog your memory 

Finding the inspiration that’ll fuel your own artistic spirit can be a daunting task.

When was the last time you visited an art museum?

Whether you’re an artist, aficionado, or collector, an afternoon spent amongst some of the world’s most coveted art can lift your spirits and heighten your level of creativity. 

I’d love to know the names of some of your favorite museums and what makes them special to you. Leave a comment in the form below and I might publish your answers in an upcoming post. See more gallery images below.

Why am I showing you these images? 

If you want to improve your art, you need to study the works of other artists, in this case, the world-renown master painters displayed at The Barnes, a non-profit art institution that promotes the works of extraordinary artists. The foundation’s newest home located along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia, houses an incredible selection of Impressionist, Post-Impressionist, and Early Modernist art by the masters of those eras. Among the questions, you might ask yourself (or a knowledgeable tour guide or art historian) is how did artists like Monet, Renoir, Picasso, and Matisse use color and texture to convey light variations and perspective? I don’t advocate copying or mimicking artistic style or content. That’s not my intent. Instead, if you’re a portrait, landscape, mural, floral artist, etc., pay close attention to the details and you’ll likely begin to view your own art from an entirely different perspective and you’ll gain insight that will ultimately enhance your own creations. 

As I planned my most recent Philadelphia media trip, I found a sponsored post by The Barnes (as it’s often called) and I knew I had to set aside an afternoon to experience this treasure. 


As I made my way around first floor galleries, I came across paintings by my all-time favorite Impressionist painters: Renoir and Monet. And then, gallery upon gallery, the notables expanded to Matisse, Van Gogh, Picasso, Cezanne, Seurat, and Modigliani. 

I was so enthralled by the selection of paintings that I didn’t allow enough time to visit the second-floor galleries but I’ll plan a follow-up trip to Philadelphia to complete my tour. 

TIP: Allow ample time (three to four hours) to explore the galleries. 
African art, Native American pottery and jewelry, Pennsylvania German furniture, American avant-garde painting, and wrought-iron metalwork are arranged throughout the galleries in a manner that encourages time to view, study, and reflect on each object in the ensembles. 

Dr. Albert C. Barnes is shown with pieces from his collection of artifacts and art he collected for four decades. Image courtesy of The Barnes Foundation

TIP: Bring a notebook to collect your thoughts and impressions. Assemble those notes so you can refer to them as you plan your next art project. Chigirie requires some advanced planning. Take my mini-course to learn how to transform your thoughts from your visit into an extraordinary paper collage using handmade washi paper.

“3 Tips to Create Outstanding Chigirie”

My mini-instruction courses are perfect for anyone who has a desire to learn Chigiri-e (Japanese art of tearing paper to create a collage or painting with washi paper). I’ve designed this mini-course (and subsequent online classes) to allow you to learn this centuries-old art as time allows. Get started today by clicking here to download “3 Tips to Create Outstanding Chigirie” at a cost of only $5. You’ll find my introductory class is an incredible value priced at $5.

Japanese paper art Joan Mead-Matsui
Discover Chigirie, the art of collage using pre-dyed handmade washi paper.

Visit to read additional insights from my recent media trip to The Barnes Foundation. 


The ensembles, each one meticulously crafted by Dr. Barnes himself, are meant to draw out visual similarities between objects we don’t normally think of together. Created as teaching tools, they were essential to the educational program Dr. Barnes developed back in the 1920s.

Thanks to Dr. Albert C. Barnes and the foundation that honors his name and vision for maintaining and preserving the world’s greatest collections of impressionist, post-impressionist, and early modernist art. For additional information, call 215.278.7000. 

The Barnes Foundation is conveniently located along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, 2025 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia, PA. No need to worry about parking. Park in the lot adjacent to the foundation. 

Don’t forget to leave your comments below. 

Disclaimer: My visit to The Barnes Foundation was comped but my opinions are my own. 

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