Two recent tourism ventures described by BGTW members
The Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia
One of the world’s finest private collections, The Barnes moved into a brand-new, purpose-built home in downtown Philadelphia, near the Museum of Art (May 2012). The original Barnes was in the suburb of Merion: hard to get to, hard to park, limited hours, cramped rooms and terrible lighting. Now, set on 4 ½ acres, it’s accessible and sustainable, with photo-voltaic panels, a green roof and recycled grey water.
In the handsome new building, a ‘box’ on top provides natural light in daytime; at night, it glows. Inside, the new rooms are the same shape, scale and proportion as the old. Walls are covered in the same burlap. The works are hung in Dr Barnes’ own configuration.
Now you can really see what Barnes wanted you to see. Works are NOT grouped by artists, genre or timeline, but to show similarities of subject, colour, shape and line. Barnes founded a school rather than a museum, where factory and shop workers, the poor and young artists could visit and learn.
With familiar paintings such as Cézanne’s Card Players, the main gallery is an oh-wow moment. Among the museum’s 800 paintings are 181 Renoirs, 69 Cézannes and 59 Matisses. But the collection is ‘quality’, not just ‘quantity’.
The new Barnes is an inspiration, as well as a major addition to a city that is on the up and up. For a former mayor, the relocated Barnes has had the ‘economic impact of three Super Bowls – without the beer.’
Gorky Park, Moscow
Gorky Park is a 300-acre park that lies along the southern banks of the Moscow River in the heart of the Russian capital. In the late 1920s Moscow was being reconstructed along the Soviet notions of a ‘city of the future.’ Soviet workers demanded acceptable conditions not only in the workplace but also outside of work – creating the park was a way to seek to improve workers’ lives during their time off.
The park was officially opened in August 1928 and on its first day saw 100,000 visitors enjoy the sporting facilities, including handball, tennis and gymnastics. The park became a valuable cultural centre, becoming one of the symbols of the Socialist state.
In 1943 the park hosted an exhibition on trophy armament samples aimed to highlight the military might and superiority of Soviet weaponry the Red Army had used to fight the fascists. Over seven million people visited the exhibition. In the post-war years, new attractions were added. The park’s first astronomical pavilion was built in 1929, although it was in 1957 that the Observatory was equipped with a refractor, where visitors could gaze at the stars above.
Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, the park fell into disrepair. In 2011 Gorky Park director Sergey Kapkov began reconstructing the park. About one hundred funfair rides, derelict buildings and crumbling on-site facilities were dismantled. The full-scale prototype of the space shuttle Buran was removed earlier this year. Muscovites watched dismantled pieces of the great spaceship travel for more than five hours along the city streets.
Today the park boasts free wifi coverage, free dance and yoga classes, tennis and table tennis facilities, a skate park, beach volleyball, cycling lanes, playgrounds, hammocks and sunbeds, sockets for charging mobile phones, an open-air cinema, a plethora of cafés and restaurants and Europe’s largest skating rink, measuring 18,000 square metres.