For over 15 years, I know spring is near when my NYC friend, Carol and I, meet in Philie for the opulent, fragrant, eye catching Philadelphia Flower Show. John, taking a break from studying for his off shore sailing week, joined me with a raft full of young folks on the 7:10 AM Megabus, a ride cositing 90% less than the Amtrak. With air clean and fresh, sun blazing and breeze blowing, we walked to our meet-up location on Museum Drive. Yes, spring was on the horizon and we were in for a double treat this year — The Barnes Collection and the Flower Show.
The Barnes Collection was moved into its own city museum two blocks down from the ‘Rockie made famous’, Philadelphia Museum of Art, after a multitude of multiple year drama of legal battles, name calling and financial problems that finally led to a negotiated settlement between Barnes’ estate lawyers and the art and horticultural school to whom the collection was gifted by the Barnes. In addition, the collection of impressionist and post impressionist art, sprinkled with old masters, initially remained in the Barnes’ suburban home, much to the dismay of its residential neighbors became increasingly congested with buses and cars when the home was opened to the public (a stipulation of his will). The new site is fitting because Barnes resented that he was never be welcomed into the city’s staid elite who built the Philadephia Museum of Art. They thought him nouveau riche and he was. He made his millions in the pharmaceutical industry, not from inheritance. (Revenge is sweet even in death.) The collection is housed in rooms that exactly replicate the rooms in Barnes’ home. It is marvelous and overwhelming at the same time, more so than any other museum in the States we have visited (yes, even the Met where you expect to be overwhelmed). For example, he collected over 180 Renoirs’ and at least 100 Cezannes’ among many others by Van Gogh, Miro, Matisse, Modigliani and others. They are all on display just as Barnes saw them on the day he died. Well done!–is all we could say.
At the Flower Show we were again amazed, this time enveloped in massive displays celebrating the 100th anniversary of our National Forests. One minute we were in Alaska, another in a Southwest dessert, another in Florida tropics, another on the Appalachian Trail and then in the Rockies and the sandstone formations of the Dakotas — to name a few. Wild flowers and vegetation were woven into formal arrangements of “domesticated” varieties. Waterfalls meshed with large screen TVs taking viewers on enchanting hikes through the forests. Forest Rangers abounded, telling stories, answering questions and proudly presenting what they spend their careers promoting and protecting. There was even a topiary-like full size buffalo made of raw wool.
It was a good day, a long day that lifted our winterized spirits (see the smiles on our faces?). Yesterday’s and today’s warm temperatures and bright skies confirmed that spring is here and it’s time to get focused on Dolce Vento to ready her for the season and the “BIG” adventure.