Knight Blog

The blog of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Inside the Barnes Foundation’s grand opening

May 21, 2012, 1:55 p.m., Posted by Dennis Scholl


Photograph © 2012 The Barnes Foundation

Knight Foundation supported the building of a new Philadelphia facility to house the Barnes Foundation collection, and a mobile app to provide more access to the world-renowned  works. Knight's Vice President/Arts Dennis Scholl writes about the opening.

It was a star-studded night as the Barnes Foundation opened the doors to it new 93,000-square-foot facility on museum mile in Philadelphia. The building, designed by Tod Williams and Billy Tsien, glowed in the setting sun as 875 patrons descended.  Luminaries included Ellsworth Kelly, caught posing in front of his 40-foot-tall sculpture in the garden entryway. I also saw most of the Sotheby’s contemporary art contingent, including North and South American chair Lisa Dennison and executive vice president Anthony Grant.

Master of ceremonies Brian Williams of NBC News kept the evening moving, even when technical issues got in the way. The crowd was also entertained by a short five-song set from Norah Jones and a rousing gospel moment by a local choir.  But it was more of a see-and-be-seen crowd, as all of Philadelphia and beyond showed up to celebrate the Barnes’ new home. And what a home it is.

I had the good fortune of visiting the Barnes in Merion before it closed and when I entered the identically replicated rooms in the new space, it was an odd feeling of deja vu. The main difference is the new space’s exquisite lighting, designed by Paul Marantz. The use of diffused light bouncing off of silver leaf ceilings gives the work a luminous feel. For the first time, you can see the postimpressionist works in all their glory.

Seeking innovation at home by learning from abroad

May 19, 2012, 9:02 a.m., Posted by Susan Amat



Miamians Susan Amat, Brian Breslin and Davide Di Cillo are spending 10 days traveling in Latin America as part of “Geeks on a Plane,” a tour for start-ups and entrepreneurs to learn about global technology markets. Knight Foundation funded the trio’s trip, as part of an effort to foster a greater culture of innovation and entrepreneurship in Miami. Here Amat, co-founder of the University of Miami’s center for entrepeneurship The Launch Pad, writes about the experience.

For the past week, Brian Breslin, Davide Di Cillo and I have been traveling with 30+ other tech entrepreneurs and investors to Mexico City, Sao Paolo, and Buenos Aires to learn about the local start-up scenes and companies. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity to deep dive into markets with strong similarities and shocking differences from our own in Miami. The experience is enhanced with insights from our fellow passengers, most of them Silicon Valley veterans who represent 15 other countries. To share this with Brian and Davide has had an even greater impact, as we reflect on each discussion through the lens as leaders in our South Florida community. 

Central Corridor Light Rail makes progress to strengthen community opportunities

May 17, 2012, 10:17 a.m., Posted by Polly M. Talen



St. Paul is on the national radar this week as The Central Corridor Funders Collaborative’s annual stakeholder event made the HUD Office of Sustainable Housing and Communities update.

The collaborative is a group of local and national funders that strongly support the Central Corridor Light Rail Line that will connect Minneapolis and St. Paul because it offers opportunities to strengthen the regional economy and makes the surrounding neighborhoods better places to live, work and access opportunity.

An excerpt from the HUD update notes:

“In the Twin Cities the HUD team joined a gathering of 200 community leaders and foundations to celebrate the progress of the Central Corridor Funders Collaborative. Mayors Coleman and Rybak joined Sue Haigh, chair of the Met Council, a HUD regional grantee, to spotlight efforts to support local businesses and create strong neighborhoods throughout the corridor.”

As the Central Corridor light rail project moves closer to completion, the Corridor’s “beyond the rail” initiatives are beginning to take shape and are transforming into action.  This was reinforced by presentations during the event from working groups that focused on issues like affordable housing, business development, contractor and workforce inclusion, a public/private investment framework and job access.

The 2012 Progress Beyond the Rail report, which focuses on how trends are taking shape, is available online. The Central Corridor light rail is now halfway complete, a milestone covered earlier this week by CBS and the Star Tribune. The project is scheduled to be completed and fully operational by 2014.