Barnes Jawn(t)

Created as a commission for the Barnes Foundation, Barnes Jawn(t)s are a series of improvised jaunts through The Barnes Foundation collection guided by fascinating local personalities. These off-the-cuff, sure-to-run-off-the-rails tours are led by artists, community leaders, and performers—all experts in their fields.


Created by: Arianna Gass, Daniel Park, and Joseph Ahmed.

Videography* by: Joseph Ahmed

Photography* by: Meryl Sands

Performed by: 15 Philadelphia-area activists, artists and community leaders, listed further down

*All images and footage appear courtesy of the Barnes Foundation.

Jawnt tour guide pointing at paintings for tour group.

About the Show

Barnes Jawn(t) was commissioned by the Barnes Foundation and created by Obvious Agency. There were six Jawn(t)s between July 7th and August 21st 2018, and several ran concurrently on October 11th, 2019.


The Philadelphia Citizen

The Inquirer

“By inviting community activists to serve as docents and make up the stories behind its art, the Barnes is disrupting itself–and connecting to its founder’s anti-elitist philosophy.” 

– Colin Lodewick, The Philadelphia Citizen, 2018

“I absolutely see this project as a disruption of space–disruption of elitist space, disruption of straight, cis, white space, disruption of colonial sensibilities.”

– Shani Akilah, 2018 tour guide and Co-founder of the Black and Brown Workers Co-Op

Barnes Jawn(t) Trailer

2019 Barnes Jawn(t) Tour Guides

Esteban Kelley (Anti-Opression Resource and Training Alliance)

Marangeli Mejia Rabell (Afrotaino Productions/Philadelphia Latino Film Festival

Timaree Leigh/HoneyTree EvilEye (Sex with Timaree

Starfire (Director’s Gathering

Mel Hsu (Girls Rock Philly

We developed a short game distributed to Barnes Jawn(t) attendees that was designed to supplement the tours given by our expert tour guides. The goal of the game was to offer attendees yet another way of engaging with items in the Barnes’ collection through a guided creative and playful process, appropriate for players as young as five.

“Behold!” can also be played in any museum or gallery.

Give it a try!

Other Projects

An image looking down a stairwell. There are small sculptures of toiletries on the wall to left. In the distance there is a curtain that reads go to sleep.