Explore the Arts

Barnes Storming

IB Arts students experience a half-dozen iconic Philadelphia art museums and galleries over three days
"I am just overwhelmed,” said one student.
It was only the second day of the trip, and already the IB Arts students were showing signs of “Florence syndrome,” the fabled aesthetic sickness from seeing too much beautiful art at one time. 
To be fair, Philadelphia’s Barnes Foundation museum has been known to have an overwhelming effect on visitors before. A brick-by-brick recreation of the personal collection of Albert C. Barnes, the museum combines avant garde paintings, medieval ironworks and folk art antiques in a one-of-a-kind space.
“I wanted students to look at the curation of the galleries and begin thinking about their upcoming [IB Arts] exhibitions this spring,” said Amy Bynum Chaplin ’88, visual art department chair. “How do we create a show and think about the viewer's experience? How do we use that visual language to communicate our ideas?”
The Barnes visit was just one of dozens of unforgettable experiences enjoyed by the group of IB Arts course candidates on their three-day trip to Philadelphia, January 12-14, 2020. A favorite Trinity tradition for more than a decade, the trip alternates each year between Philadelphia and other urban arts centers like New York, Chicago and Baltimore.
In addition to the Barnes, the group also visited the Rodin Museum, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Fabric Museum, Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts (PAFA) and the utterly unique Magic Gardens, a dazzling folk art experience near Center City.
“They were fascinated by the use of materials, by the extent and expanse of the installation,” said Chaplin of the gardens. “They were really amazed by this one artist's compulsion to create. I saw a lot of kids wanting to harness that compulsion and dedication for themselves.”
“I loved the Magic Gardens. They were like nothing I've seen before,” said Alex Clark ’21, who also recalls being inspired by seeing the work of Picasso’s blue period in person at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. “It has inspired me to do some more monochrome images.”
The unique experience of seeing iconic works of art in real life has been an important driver for the trip for over ten years. Dylan Dhindsa ’20 was struck by the scale and detail in Rodin’s “The Thinker.” “I was able to get close and examine every detail… It was different than I expected,” said Dhindsa. “Being able to experience such a famous piece of artwork was inspiring and fascinating.”
Just as powerful and memorable as the art, however, is the bonding experience that happens each year on the trip. “They can't choose roommates, and we mix them up across grade level and media interest,” said Chaplin. “The bonding that happens through their shared love of the arts is palpable.”
IB visual art and music courses are the pinnacle of arts education — these courses blend history, culture, current events, technique and much more into the works students create, while curating the essence and application of creativity.
Learn more about the International Baccalaureate Arts program at Trinity at

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