Barnes Foundation teams with Indego to put great works of art on Philly bikes

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Soon you’ll be able to see famous artwork, maybe even a Van Gogh, zipping around Philadelphia on a bike.

The Barnes Foundation announced on Wednesday that it is partnering with Indego, Philadelphia’s bike share service, to wrap 20 Indego bikes in paintings from the Foundation’s collection.

The first 10 bikes, wrapped in paintings chosen by the public, will be unveiled at a free open house called #BiketoBarnes on September 14th from 5 to 8 p.m. People can meet up at bike shops around the city — the Barnes has a list of approved locations on their website — and bike together to the Barnes Foundation on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, where Indego and Neighborhood Bike Works will be waiting to valet bikes, just as they would a car. You can also bike solo to the event if you don’t want to participate in the meet up.

Guests at the open house will be able to vote on paintings for the next 10 bikes, which will be unveiled in May 2018. In addition to keeping the Barnes collection and its special exhibit “Mohamed Bourouissa: Urban Riders” open late, there will be bike riding lessons, giveaways, and pop-up talks about the art featured on the bikes.

“One of the things that we wanted to do was not just wrap bikes but wanted to provide an opportunity for people to engage here,” said Shelley Bernstein, deputy director for digital initiatives and chief experience officer at the Barnes Foundation.

The Barnes Foundation wants to keep the chosen paintings a surprise, hoping that people will either come to the open house or see the bikes on the streets of Philly once they’ve launched.

“They’re definitely crowd-pleasers,” said Bernstein. She said that the Barnes Foundation approached Indego about the partnership because they were inspired by the bikeshare program’s reach in the city and their 2015 partnership with Mural Arts, where artwork by local teens was wrapped on Indego bikes.

“We thought it was a wonderful opportunity,” said Aaron Ritz, Transportation Programs Manager at the Office of Transportation and Infrastructure Systems. “We want [Indego] to be a resource that connects you to other resources.”

Currently, the two year old bikeshare program has 117 stations and 1200 bikes. Its riders have taken over a million trips throughout the city. With the launch of the program, Indego pass holders will receive free admission to the Barnes Foundation and will be able to bring a friend for $5 off of their cost of admission for the entire year.

The 20 wrapped bikes will be spread throughout Indego stations in city. “They’ll be everywhere,” said Bernstein. “They go wherever the riders want to go and go back to where the riders want to park them.”

Designers had to get creative with how they wrapped the paintings onto the bikes. They deconstructed prints of the paintings to fit them onto a bike frame, Bernstein said.

“It’s not a complete representation of the painting on the bike,” she added. “When you look at it, it’s a painting that you’re going to be really familiar with but on you’re experiencing it in a new way.”

Both Bernstein and Ritz hope that the program will be a way to encourage more Philadelphians to use Indego and visit the Barnes. People can register for Open House: #BiketoBarnes online.

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