Let’s Connect: Frequently Asked Questions

Artist Information

Why are there size restrictions on the artist submissions?


The exhibition will be on view in the Barnes collection classrooms. These rooms are ideal exhibition spaces for Let’s Connect because they are inside the galleries and in close proximity to the works in the Barnes collection that artists are responding to as part of the open call. The size restrictions are in place so that we can install works in these spaces while having enough room for all of the submissions.
The size restrictions were inspired by a participatory exhibition from the Minneapolis Institute of Art called Foot in the Door. In this program, artists were asked to submit works that were one foot by one foot. Keeping the work at a manageable size helped ensure that there was enough room for all of the work.




Why is video work not being accepted?


During this pilot year, works that cannot be submitted on a stretched canvas—examples include performance, digital, video, and sound—are not accepted. In reviewing installation procedures at the Barnes, we found that it would be incredibly difficult to display these works in a way that was fair. We explored accepting these submissions and playing them on a loop or via touch selection in provided viewing areas, but these submissions would not be displayed in a persistent way like the work on stretched canvas. This meant they would be far less visible to the voting public and curators. We also explored installing one screen per work, using a screen that would be the same size as the stretched canvas requirements, but the gallery space in its current form does not have the built-in power needed for this type of installation.




Can I sketch or take photos in the collection during my visit?


Yes, we recently changed these rules in our collection. We now allow note taking and sketching with graphite pencil using notebooks no larger than 9 × 12 inches. Unless otherwise posted, we also allow photography, as long as there's no flash, tripod, or selfie stick. If our galleries are crowded, we may ask you to stop sketching, writing, or taking photos to help us maintain movement throughout the space. A few other things to note when visiting the collection: Help us keep our collection safe by keeping your distance. Stay two feet from any wall. There's a line on the floor which can be used as a helpful guideline. Lightweight jackets and small bags are okay, but please check coats and any bags larger than 12 × 10 inches. Our coat check is on the lower level. We have free wifi throughout the space, just connect to BarnesPublic and you're all set. Be sure to say hello to our Art Team. They are a group of art historians and educators who engage visitors in the collection. If you have any questions about specific works of art, please ask this team and they will be happy to tell you more about it.




What’s the deal with the weighted voting?


We felt a curatorial voice was of particular benefit to artists who may be submitting work. At the same time, we wanted to equally honor the public’s selections. The idea of a 50/50 vote was inspired by the Walker Art Center’s exhibition 50/50: Audience and Experts Curate the Paper Collection. At the Walker, the 50/50 exhibition was split down the middle with the curators’ selections on one side of the gallery and the public’s selections on the other side. In Let’s Connect, we wanted to include both of these perspectives and bring these voices together equally in the final selection. This means the final score assigned to a work will be a weighted average of all valid votes. Fifty percent of the final score will be based on the average curator score, and 50 percent of the final score will be based on the average community score.




What are you looking for in the submissions?


The call for submissions is purposely left open-ended. We ask that you select a work in our collection as a departure point, but from this point forward your interpretation of this call is your own. The newly produced work could respond to the selected piece in a number of ways—by addressing its historical origins, by proposing a new visual relationship in the tradition of Dr. Barnes, or by critiquing the Barnes method altogether. In the end, this is up to you and your creative interpretation. It may be helpful to consider what voters will be looking for when selecting their favorite works. We are asking the curators and the public to think about the following things as they make their choices: The interpretation, creativity, and/or originality of the connection made between the artist's work and the reference work in the Barnes collection. The overall quality of the work including craftsmanship, demonstrated mastery of skill, and utilization of the formal elements—light, line, color, and space—in the creation of the work. ​ Beyond what is here, the Barnes and Mural Arts cannot advise about what to submit.




If my work is not conducive to using a canvas as a back, what can I do?


What's most important to us is not the canvas backing per se, but the frame that comes with a standard stretched canvas. We need to ensure that every work coming in has a standard back, so our art handlers can hang the work with standardized hardware and, also, the frame gives us a writing surface and a standardized way to attach the object's label. Our suggestion is to purchase the standard 8"x10" stretched canvas and remove the canvas backing if you'd like. Then you can use the frame on the rear of your piece, while using a different material on the front like wood or another surface. Our collections team has also approved the use of a store bought cradled board, pictured here on the left. The most important thing is to make sure your piece is attached securely to that frame backing and that the frame is a standard one that would normally come with a stretched canvas.




Can I participate if I work at Mural Arts or the Barnes?


Current employees of the Barnes and Mural Arts Philadelphia can submit work as artists but cannot vote unless they’ve been invited to be curators.




How do I submit and drop off my work?


You must be registered as an artist. Registered artists will recieve an email with the link to the "Artist Submission Form" on May 1, 2018. The form must be completed prior to drop off and instructions for drop off will be emailed after completion of the form. Please make sure to check your spam folders and/or add the Let's Connect email address to your known sender lists, as appropriate.




How do I find the accession number?


In our open call, artists are asked to select a work as a point of departure for their submission. Prior to dropping off work, you'll be asked to provide the Accession Number for the work in the Barnes collection that inspired your submission. There are multiple ways to find this number, which we'll show you in the video below. (Please make sure your volume is turned up.)




Can an artist vote?


Yes. Artists can vote, but must be registered as voters in order to do so. However, there is one exception—if you are a participating artist who works at Mural Arts or the Barnes, you cannot vote. Voter registration will open on May 10, 2018.




Can I frame my work?


We'd prefer that you don't frame the work because the rear of the work needs to be standard (please see the FAQ on this page about the canvas back and rear of the work specifications). Additionally, the overall size of the work can be no larger than the stated size restrictions. Technically, you could frame it if you stay within the size restrictions and the back is standard, but we don't recommend it. If you need to front your work with glass or plexi, we'd suggest using something like swiss clips, so you can keep the rear of the work standard as stated.




Will I get in if I'm an artist on the wait list?


Due to overwhelming demand, we've had to cut off artist registrations because of limited space in which to hang work. We believe there's a very good chance a spot will open and ask that you consider doing everything possible to get ready to take it. This includes getting familiar with the project via the website and preparing a work of art that follows the guidelines. If a spot opens up, we will notify you via email no later than May 10, but possibly prior to this. If we notify you that a spot is open, you'll have less than 24 hours to submit paper work and will have to drop off your work at a time specified by us. Artists on the wait list are given free access to the Barnes through April 30, 2018, during our regular hours, Wednesday through Monday 11am – 5pm. You may visit as many times as you’d like during this period. Just come by the Barnes, check in with our staff, mention you are on the waitlist, and we'll get you started.




If I live or work just outside of Philadelphia County, can I still participate?


In order to participate as an artist in Let's Connect, you must currently live or work within Philadelphia County to submit a work. Unfortunately, we cannot make any exceptions to this rule. Please see the Official Rules for more information.




Do I need to wait in a line to visit the collection if I've registered?


Yes, your entry is free, but you may have to wait in a queue in order to enter the collection, especially during busy times, because of capacity limiations in our galleries. This is true for both registered artists and registered community members coming to vote. You most likely won't experience queues on weekdays when we are slower, but should expect them on the weekends, especially between the hours of noon and 2pm. Additionally, you may want to avoid visitation on PECO Free First Sunday Family Day. This event, which happens the first Sunday of every month, tends to be our busiest day with long wait times for the collection.




How did you hang the exhibition?


During our installation procedures we opted for a random hang, so that our staff were not biased in what they were hanging where. All of the works remained in the boxes where they were placed during intake. Handlers took work from the boxes at random, installed hardware, and placed them on the wall as they went. There was no drawing or installation plan; we installed this way to be fair to everyone. This means some, by luck of the draw, are placed in what might be considered less advantageous places.





Voter Information

Can I participate if I live outside of Philadelphia?


Voting is open to everyone. Voting takes place at the Barnes within the Let's Connect exhibition, so as long as you're on-site you are eligible to vote.




Will I need to wait in a line if I've registered?


Yes, your entry is free, but you may have to wait in a queue in order to enter the collection, especially during busy times, because of capacity limitations in our galleries. You most likely won't experience queues on weekdays when we are slower, but should expect them on the weekends, especially between the hours of noon and 2pm. Additionally, you may want to avoid visitation on PECO Free First Sunday Family Day. This event, which happens the first Sunday of every month, tends to be our busiest day with long wait times for the collection.




Can I participate if I work at Mural Arts or the Barnes?


Current employees of the Barnes and Mural Arts Philadelphia can submit work as artists but cannot vote unless they’ve been invited to be curators.




What’s the deal with the weighted voting?


We felt a curatorial voice was of particular benefit to artists who may be submitting work. At the same time, we wanted to equally honor the public’s selections. The idea of a 50/50 vote was inspired by the Walker Art Center’s exhibition 50/50: Audience and Experts Curate the Paper Collection. At the Walker, the 50/50 exhibition was split down the middle with the curators’ selections on one side of the gallery and the public’s selections on the other side. In Let’s Connect, we wanted to include both of these perspectives and bring these voices together equally in the final selection. This means the final score assigned to a work will be a weighted average of all valid votes. Fifty percent of the final score will be based on the average curator score, and 50 percent of the final score will be based on the average community score.




When is the best time to view the exhibition?


The Let's Connect exhibition will be on view at the Barnes from May 21 through June 4, 2018. We are open from 11am to 5pm Wednesday through Monday. We will also be hosting extended hours on Sunday, June 3, when we'll be open until 8pm for our Barnes on the Block event. You most likely won't experience queues on weekdays when we are slower, but should expect them on the weekends, especially between the hours of noon and 2pm. Additionally, you may want to avoid visitation on PECO Free First Sunday Family Day. This event, which happens the first Sunday of every month, tends to be our busiest day with long wait times.




What should I expect?


You may come to the Barnes May 21 through June 4, 2018, and your visit is FREE. Speak with our staff when you enter; we’ll sign you in, give you free entry, and hand you a ballot. You’ll be asked to view the Let’s Connect exhibition, make your selections, and return your ballot to our staff. There will be voting instructions in the exhibition, including what to consider when voting and how to fill out your ballot.




Can I vote online?


No, voting can't be done online. You have to visit the Let's Connect exhibition at the Barnes and the balloting is done on-site.




Does free entry include everything on view at the Barnes?


Yes, your registration for Let's Connect means your entire visit to the Barnes is free including our collection, special exhibition, and the Let's Connect exhibition. Parking, however, is not included. In order to get free access, you must register online in advance prior to arrival at the Barnes.





General Information

Why are the Barnes and Mural Arts teaming up for this project?


Let’s Connect is an important project for both the Barnes and Mural Arts; it brings the two organizations together as natural partners, each with unique strategic objectives. For the Barnes, Let’s Connect serves to engage new audiences. The project seeks to grow relationships with those living or working in proximity to the Barnes on the Parkway—artists, curators, and community members alike. Additionally, the project reframes the Foundation’s greatest asset—the collection—by providing a contemporary lens via artist submissions. Mural Arts was a natural partner for the Barnes because of their longstanding relationships with artists throughout Philadelphia. For Mural Arts, Let’s Connect serves to engage artist communities in new ways by putting a spotlight on those living and working in Philadelphia. The project stands to give Mural Arts broader artistic reach and grow relationships with the artists they know as well as those they may not have engaged previously.




Can I participate if I work at Mural Arts or the Barnes?


Current employees of the Barnes and Mural Arts Philadelphia can submit work as artists but cannot vote unless they’ve been invited to be curators.





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Let’s Connect is a project of the Barnes Foundation in partnership with Mural Arts Philadelphia.

Artist Open Call: March 19–April 30, 2018

Exhibition: May 21–June 4, 2018

Artist Announcement: June 14, 2018

Artist Residencies: July 1, 2018–September 30, 2019

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