The Barnes Foundation’s Archives and Special Collections Moves to the Parkway

Submitted by Barbara Anne Beaucar

In the spring of 2016, as a result of internal restructuring, the Barnes Foundation’s Archives, Libraries, and Special Collections department lost two of its valuable members. The shakeup also included an ambitious plan to move the institution’s archives and special collections from its home on the Merion campus to the Foundation’s new building on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. The goal of this monumental move, beyond reuniting the archives with the art library, was to create a research center that would serve the Barnes Foundation’s staff and students as well as visiting scholars researching the history of the Barnes and its collections.

Almost immediately, rumors circulated that the Honickman Art Library had closed. It may have seemed so over the summer when our hours were extremely limited. The library closed to the general public but remained open one day per week during the summer months, primarily for the use of staff members. Previously focusing on archival work and managing the Horticulture Library and Rare Books Collection, Amanda McKnight received a promotion to Associate Archivist and Librarian which expanded her duties to also include overseeing the Honickman Art Library.

Secure, fireproof shelving installed in the back-of-the-house hallway to manage library over flow and compact shelving in secure, climate controlled storage for the archives

Over the summer, Archivist Barbara Anne Beaucar began planning the move of this rather significant collection. She sent RFPs to prospective movers and, working the registrar, selected Atelier, the art movers that had moved the Barnes Foundation’s art collection to the Parkway in 2012. The facilities staff then coordinated the logistics for the installation of new shelving preceding the move. Fireproof, secure cabinets were installed in the lower level back-of-the-house hallway and the former library storage room at the end of the hallway was refitted with compact shelving to house the archival collections.

Atelier set up two staging areas in the administration building in Merion, one on the first floor and another on the second floor balcony. Archival materials were then hand-carried from the third floor storage area down three flights of steps to be packed and secured in wooden crates or bakers’ shelves before being loaded onto the moving trucks. Two facilities staff members joined the archivists on either end of the move, one team in Merion while the collection was being packed and loaded, and another on the Parkway as the trucks were unloaded and unpacked.

Atelier crew moving the archives from Merion and the archival collections in their new home on the Parkway

Since the move in September, Amanda has re-organized the circulating collection and addressed redundancies in reference materials due to the merge. She has updated the library catalogue, re-arranged and labeled more clearly the rare book collection, enhanced metrics collection, and continued to work closely with the necessary departments to maintain appropriate access of art library resources for our constituents.  Currently, she is managing library operations on both campuses—the Horticulture Library remains on the Merion campus supporting the living collections staff, students, and arboretum gardeners.

The Honickman Art Library and the Archives and Special Collections established new hours on the Parkway: Monday through Friday from 10AM to 4PM. We continue to welcome members of the Barnes community—staff, faculty, students, docents, and volunteers and are open to external researchers by appointment only.

Web Page:

Online Library Catalog:

The online library catalog is available via the URL:


Department Staff:
Barbara Beaucar

Amanda McKnight
Associate Archivist and Librarian


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