The Architectural History Gallery

barnes bldg

The Barnes Foundation, c. 1922, Paul Cret.

Building for Art:

Paul Cret's Barnes Foundation and Rodin Museum

The Architectural History Gallery highlights the history relevant to the Maguire Art Museum building. The first installation, curated by architectural historian David B. Brownlee, focuses on Paul Cret’s designs for the museum’s building and the Rodin Museum in Center City Philadelphia. 

Paul Phillippe Cret (1876 - 1945) trained in the modern classicism of the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris, directed the architecture program at the University of Pennsylvania. Cret was a prolific and influential architect. In the Philadelphia area, Cret co-designed (with Jacques Greber) the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, including the Rodin Museum. He also built the Delaware River Bridge, now known as the Ben Franklin Bridge, with an engineer. Barnes called him America’s “best architect.” He hired Cret to build a museum for his collection on a lot beside his home in 1922.

Cret's other projects include the Memorial Arch at Valley Forge, Rittenhouse Square in Philadelphia, the Pan American Union building and the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C., and the campuses of Brown University and the University of Texas at Austin.  

The exhibition includes correspondence between Albert Barnes and Cret, sketches, and ephemera associated with both structures. It is made possible through loans from the Barnes Foundation, the Athenaeum of Philadelphia, the University of Pennsylvania and the Philadelphia Museum of Art.


Rodin Museum Garden Perspective, c. 1928, Jacques Greber.

Paul Philippe Cret, c. 1931 (1876 - 1945)

Correspondence between Dr. Barnes and Paul Cret, Architectural History Gallery

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