Philadelphia, the city that gave us Poor Richard, cheese-steak sandwiches and the American Constitution, just opened a new treasure: the Barnes Foundation, one of the premier privately assembled collections of painting in the U.S. with more dreamy Renoirs and searching Cézannes than in the whole of France.
Its arrival in May halfway between the landmark City Hall and Museum of Art on Benjamin Franklin Parkway — Philly’s Champs Élysées — gives visitors a chance to see what was once an almost secret stash of great art.
The catalog is astounding, even apart from Renoirs and Cézannes.
…all previously hard to access, thanks in part to the collection’s former home in Merion, PA, a 45-minute bus ride from downtown. The foundation rarely lent works to other museums, prohibited reproductions and restricted visitation.
Curmudgeonly founder Albert C. Barnes, a medical doctor, chemist and self-made millionaire with a boulder-size chip on his shoulder, once called Philadelphia “a depressing intellectual slum.” He started buying art in the early part of the 20th century and conceived of his collection as an educational institution, not a gathering place for high-society “Sunday” dabblers in art.
It took more than 50 years to give the collection a new home that is open to the public. Not everyone loves it.
New company Coursera is targeting higher education by offering university-level courses from top institutions to students all over the world, all for free.
The company launched with $16 million in Series A funding and is announcing partnerships with four schools:
- Princeton University
- Stanford University
- University of Pennsylvania
- University of Michigan.
Coursera will offer over 30 courses from its partner schools across a variety of disciplines, including computer science, sociology, medicine, and math.
A selection of the classes:
- Fantast and Science Fiction: The Human Mind, Our Modern World
- Modern and Contemporary American Poetry
- Design and Analysis of Algorithms
- Introduction to Sociology
- Social Network Analysis
- Listening to World Music
- Introduction to Genome Science
Classes typically last for five to ten weeks, and during that time students commit to watching the lectures, and completing interactive quizzes and assignments, which are auto-graded or graded by peers. Upon completion, the student receives a statement of accomplishment, a letter from the professor, and a score, but the course doesn’t count for any actual credit with that specific institution. The site also features a Q&A forum where students can ask questions about the course material and get answers from fellow students.