Study Spots: The Barnes Foundation

Friday, August 16, 2019

Barnes Foundation
Source: angela n@flickr (November 10, 2012)

We are in the Last Days of Summer… Some of you are already back in Philly, stretching out some time for enjoyment and relaxation before the semester begins. Others are away at home base or traveling, and not quite ready to envision returning to campus life. And some are engaged in pre-semester courses, research projects, graduate assistantships, work study, and a gamut of new student orientation programs!

Wherever you are, you might be interested in a transitional or alternative study spot. In other words, you may be thinking about planning and preparing for the Fall semester, but not feel quite as ready to be enclosed in a formal Library space, dorm or divisional department. Look no longer! If you enjoy the arts, the Barnes Foundation offers an alternative study space, especially in the Basement area, adjacent to the Gift Shop, near the Cafe and outdoor patio.

Barnes Foundation, Basement
View from my comfy chair, my laptop resting on a side table, which I pulled in front of me. The dim lighting is perfect for laptop work.

Barnes Foundation, Basement
View from my “study spot”, to the left, a handy Coffee Bar for nourishment, to the right, an impressive display of African pottery.

Barnes Foundation, Basement
View from behind my “study spot”. Step into the open air patio for reading, reflection, stretching and fresh air.

There are many options to Plan Your Visit on a budget, including:

  • Discounts for students and veterans
  • Free Sundays for teachers
  • Free PECO First Sunday Family Days

It is also conveniently located in the Art Museum area at 20th and Parkway. It is publicly accessible by SEPTA #7, #32, #33, #38, and #48 bus routes (and new #49 route). They are also Stop 7 on the Philly PHLASH, a quick and inexpensive shuttle service that stops at historic and cultural destinations throughout Center City. Service runs every 15 minutes between 10am and 6pm. 

Barnes Foundation
Sources: Ron Cogswell@flickr (June 2016); Thekohser@WikiMediaCommons (October 2015)

So, whenever you return to Philadelphia, be sure to check out the Barnes Foundation, as an alternative study spot to help you ease into this beautiful city and the surroundings of campus life!

If you’re into Museums, also check out our prior Blogs on Penn’s Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA):

By Staff Writer: Min Derry, Learning Fellow

Study Spots: Perelman Center for Political Science and Economics (PCPSE)

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

The south view of the contemporary expansion of the Ronald O. Perelman Center. (Photo: copyright Adrien Williams, courtesy of KPMB)

If you are a lover of historic art deco architecture and are in the hunt for a new study spot, look no further than across from the Penn Bookstore at 36th and Walnut. Inaugurated in 2018, the Ronald O. Perelman Center for Political Science and Economics (PCPSE) is the latest addition to the School of Arts & Sciences, which rehabilitated and significantly expanded the circa-1925 West Philadelphia Title and Trust Company building at 133 S. 36th. Enter on 36th street through the set of glass doors in the new addition across from Cosi Cafe:

Perelman Center for Political Science and Economics

The main lobby is airy, and if you enjoy studying under natural light, it should be the perfect locale for you, especially when the days are long and it’s sunny outside. Upon entering, you will find student lounges, with various types of seating, on either side of the escalators:

If you’re looking to do group work in art deco-meets-futuristic style, your team will feel energized and motivated to collaborate utilizing one of their six group study rooms, which can be reserved online:

“One of the most important roles of a great university is to encourage open dialogue, the free exchange of ideas, and civil and robust expression of divergent views, on our campus and all around the world,” Gutmann added. “This building will be a place to do just that.”

So give the new PCPSE a try and let us know how you enjoy it! And don’t forget to step outside and cross-over to the conveniently located and newly revamped Penn Bookstore Cafe to refresh and replenish in between your study sessions!

By Staff Writer: Min Derry, Learning Fellow

Wellness: James G. Kaskey Memorial Park, The Biopond and Biology Greenhouses

Thursday, March 21, 2019
Biopond @ James G. Kaskey Memorial Park

The James G. Kaskey Memorial Park is a fitting tribute to the first day of Spring, an unassuming nature oasis tucked away within Penn’s urban campus.

“This green space which we call today the James G. Kaskey Memorial Park, or BioPond, was created during the last decade of the nineteenth century, opening as a research garden in 1897. Although the idea for a garden on University of Pennsylvania campus was first presented by Dr. J.T. Rothrock, then chair of the Department of Botany, it was Professor of Botany, Dr. John M. MacFarlane who finally convinced the Biological Department of the special advantages to be gained by reclaiming the waste ground which surrounded the department. Although the area was a scant five acres, generally considered far too small a space for a Botanical Garden, Professor MacFarlane did succeed in transforming waste hills and hollows of sand and gravel into a garden which fulfilled not only the botanical research needs of members of the department, but was also a graceful addition to the University landscape” (Penn Arts & Sciences).

Over the years, it has been renovated (dredged, relined and realigned) for maintenance and sustainability; however, it has lost some of its original acreage due to campus development around it. Nonetheless, it still stands today as a campus treasure.

If you like the outdoors, there are benches and a few picnic tables where you can take in the sun and read/study. I prefer to go for a nice walk when I need a break from my work, and especially pack my lunch there where I can eat al fresco. You will delight in some of the live species that inhabit the pond, such as fish and turtles, if you observe carefully. Now is the best time to enjoy it, before it gets too hot to be outside in the Summer. But crisp Fall-Winter walks are also unexpectedly enjoyable.

As you set out to walk and meander through the paths, cross over bridges or perch on a bench upon which to find a point of rest, consider an analogy to your academic journey:

  • Which paths have your consciously and unconsciously taken thus far?
    • What have they revealed?
    • What have you learned?
  • What experiences, wins and apparent defeats have served as bridges to where you have arrived or hope to arrive?
    • Who or what has kept you connected and/or motivated?
    • What connections have you made?
    • How have you made sense of your experiences?
  • Where have you found rest and support?
    • What is the value of pause and reflection?
    • How do we plan for and schedule rest points in our schedule, in our paths?
    • How will you support others?

Next time you take a study break or seek an outdoors green space for studying, consider the opportunities that the Kaskey Memorial Park, including the biopond and greenhouses, offer for self-reflection, self-assessment, self-nurture and growth.

By Staff Writer: Min Derry, Learning Fellow

Study Spots: The ARCH

Sunday, March 17, 2019

The ARCH building intersects Arts, Research and Culture:

  • The Center for Undergraduate Research and Fellowships (CURF)
  • Ben Franklin Scholars
  • University Scholars
  • Makuu
  • La Casa Latina
  • The Pan Asian American Community House (PAACH)
  • Student Performing Arts

It is designed to be a safe, supportive, inclusive and critically generative space where students can assert their agency, activism and ingenuity with confidence.

“One of the most engaging features of the building is the large amount of carved stone ornamental detail on the exterior.  There are three cross‑gables on the main (east) elevation.  The middle gable is placed adjacent to the southern end gable and is set back, forming a picturesque mass crowned by an elaborate double serpentine chimney.  A one- story entrance portico with Gothic details stands out from the middle gable, and is set below a two story mullioned window.  The south facade is marked by symmetrically placed polygonal bays with ornate stonework panels, battlements, and windows topped by trefoils” (Penn Facilities and Real Estate Services).

Address: 3601 Locust Walk, Philadelphia PA, 19104

Demographic: Undergraduate and graduate students

Noise Level: Bustling with activities

Traffic: Moderate to high

Perks: Gothic Revival Architecture, Performance Arts, Culture Houses, Nourishment, Meeting Rooms Available for Reservation

Accessible from Locust Walk near 36th Street:

Auditorium and meeting rooms that can be reserved:

There are student lounges throughout:

Culture Houses offer their own student lounges:

  • Makuu
  • La Casa Latina

Tortas Frontera Mexican Dining:

If your academic endeavors invoke the intersection of culture, arts and research, consider making The ARCH a motivating, inspirational and interactional Study Spot!

By Staff Writer: Min Derry, Learning Fellow

Study Spots: The Wharton School

Wednesday, March 13, 2019
John M. Hunstman Hall

There’s nothing like getting down to business than carving out a space at the Wharton School to get your studying done:

Address: Jon M. Huntsman Hall, 3730 Walnut St, Philadelphia, PA 19104

Demographic: Undergraduate, MBA, executive and doctoral business students

Noise Level: Business ambience

Traffic: Moderate to high

Perks: Large-Scale, Sophisticated Architecture, Green Spaces, Nourishment, Group Study Rooms Available for Reservation

Accessible through the Levy Lobby from Walnut Street and the Zweig Lobby from Locust Walk, it provides a wide array of spaces, including:

  • Student Lounges throughout
  • The Koo Family Plaza, Terrace and Patio, accessible through 2nd floor:
  • Two Cafes:
    1. Undergraduate Cafe off of Locust Walk and Zweig Lobby
    2. MBA Cafe on the second floor connecting to Koo Family Plaza

Next time you set out to attend to the business of your academic affairs, consider the Wharton School as your preferred Study Spot!

By Staff Writer: Min Derry, Learning Fellow

Study Spots: Levin Building

Sunday, March 10, 2019
Levin Building, Stephen A.

425 S. University Avenue
Philadelphia PA, 19104

If you enjoy urban, contemporary, modern architecture, check out the Stephen A. Levin Building as a study spot. The interdisciplinarity of the commitment its houses intersects studies of the brain with human behavior. Curiously, even “the building’s design reflects its function in the ornate aluminum sunscreen with cutouts on the south façade. The pattern of the sunscreen is designed to convey the branching and network structures found at all scales of biology and to resonate in psychological, linguistic and cognitive models” (Penn Today).

Part of Penn’s School of Arts and Sciences, it was inaugurated in 2016 as an “expansion of the Lynch Laboratories, this building provides for the collaboration, exchange, and integration of knowledge that characterizes the study of Biology and Psychology at Penn. The Levin Building is attached to the south end of the Leidy Laboratories Building and houses research laboratories, teaching facilities, and spaces designed for interactions to foster the kind of cross-disciplinary work that increasingly characterizes work in these fields” (Penn Facilities and Real Estate).

If your research question is interdisciplinary in nature, this may be the perfect study spot for you. Let your neuroscientific and neurobehavioral juices flow!

Address: 425 S. University Avenue, Philadelphia, Pa. 19104–6220

Demographic: Interdisciplinary Neuroscience students, students from Biology, Psychology and Behavioral Sciences at the School of Arts & Sciences

Noise Level: Calm ambiance

Traffic: Low to moderate

Perks: Cool Architecture, Next to Bio Pond, 2 Group Study Rooms Available for Reservation


The Levin Building is located next to the Penn Bio Pond. Enjoy the close proximity and take a study break, stretch out your legs, take a short walk, take in the beauty of nature and breathe in some fresh air. For more content on the Biopond, check out this Blog.

By Staff Writer: Min Derry, Learning Instructor

Study Spots: Annenberg Library

Sunday, March 3, 2019
Kemuel Benyehudah

Previously, a Penn GSE RWL Masters Student, Kemuel Benyehudah, now a PhD student at the Higher Education Division of Penn GSE, wrote a wonderful blog featuring the Annenberg Library as a recommended Study Spot. Check out his Blog here. We have added some updated photos of the library, below.

If you like a smaller, cozier and more intimate study environment that feels a bit more manageable than larger libraries, with all of the benefits of book and resources pick up and returns, but more importantly, a wonderfully dedicated Reference staff, experience the Annenberg Library!

Penn’s Annenberg School for Communication has a unique, eclectic and critical ethos that is distinctly interdisciplinary. You will enjoy the student lounge right outside the library as much as the library itself. Also, check out the artwork as well as their regularly featured public events, such as guest speakers, movies and other presentations.

By Staff Writer, Min Derry, OLR Learning Fellow.

Study Spots: Penn Law School

Saturday, November 10, 2018

If you are looking for some variation to your usual study spots at Penn, consider Penn Law School. The study and collaboration facilities at the Penn Law School offers choice, versatility, support, nourishment and ecological access. It is located at 3501 Sansom StreetPhiladelphiaPA 19104. While you can typically gain access to the Law School with a Penn ID, please check for any changes to access for non-Penn Law School students during special Law School schedules, including final exam times, etc.

The Law School is comprised of four interconnected buildings surrounding a central courtyard (Map of Law School Complex): Silverman Hall, Gittis Hall, Tanenbaum Hall, and Golkin Hall, with Silverman being the most traditional, and Golkin the most modern. You can take a  Online Self-Guided Tour of the Law School Complex.

First, let’s pause to admire the beauty of the combined architecture styles, where the original, old and traditional co-exist fluidly with the new, contemporary and modern:

Now let’s hunt for your desired type of study space based on your preferences or mood for the day:

Biddle Law Library

This library is great if you prefer absolute silence.


Rooftop Terraces

Lounge Spaces

Gathering Spaces

There are enclosed rooms too. First check protocols for reservations, if applicable.

Relax and Nourish

And there is much, much more! If you’re looking for a change of scenery, and would appreciate an array of choices, versatility, nourishment and/or outdoors spaces – all in one complex – we hope you will explore the Penn Law School as a possible study spot for you!

Staff Writer: Min Derry, Learning Fellow, Weingarten Learning Resources Center.




Study Spots: Institute of Contemporary Art

Saturday, January 20, 2018
secret-1142327_960_720 In need of a new study spot? 
Bored of the same old?

Search no more! 



If you are a sensory-modal, visual learner, and/or share a love for the arts,  you will love our newest Super Secret Study spot: UPENN-ICA

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Location: 118 South 36th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104.

Phone: (215) 898-7108

Museum Hours: 

Elixir Coffee Bar: 

Admission: FREE for ALL


As soon as you walk into the ICA-UPENN, you will notice the essential Elixir Coffee Bar to your left:


Grab your favorite caffeine fuel or otherwise, gourmet pastry, and head up the stairs to your left alongside the mega glass walls to the museum’s mezzanine:


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Your long-awaited soft-landing will be a brightly-lit mezzanine area flooded in natural light from two adjacent walls:

Depending on the configuration of the space, you may find different types of table set-ups, but typically, you will have the option of at least 3 small tables with chairs on all sides, enough to support 1 person to a group of 3-4 people:



When the weather is nice outside, you can head out to the Tuttleman Terrace, and enjoy the elements:

Studying + Sunbathing = Bliss!

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So next time you find yourself needing a little pick-me-up, try a change of scenery…


  • Galleries are currently closed for installation, but the Elixir Coffee Bar and Mezzanine remain open regular hours.
  • Winter Opening Celebration: February 2, 2018.
  • Winter Exhibit:
Cary Leibowitz: Museum Show

large_20_CaryLeibowitz_2.3.17_JKAPhotography (2)

So grab your FREE ICA-UPENN Museum Membership, and enjoy your Super Secret Study Spot!

Secret Concept

Staff Writer: Min Derry, Learning Instructor

Secret Study Spots: Houston Hall – Reading Room

Monday, November 13, 2017

Houston Hall


  • 3417 Spruce Street
Building Hours:
  • Monday – Friday- 6:30 AM – 1:00 AM
  • Saturday – Sunday- 7:00 AM – 1:00 AM

Houston Hall may not be a secret spot on campus, but it can sometimes be overlooked as a convenient study spot. It’s centrally located, and it has food and snack options in the basement (always good to have close-by when you need a study break!). As the first college union building in the country, Houston Hall has a grand feel about it, taking you back to some of your favorite scenes from Harry Potter.

Today, we are going to review the HH106 Reading Room on the first floor, just off the lobby, but there are plenty of other spots to study in Houston Hall. Let us know if you have a favorite!


         The HH Reading Room is comfortable and spacious. It’s a perfect spot for you to do some reading or homework during your shorter 1-2 hour breaks on campus in between classes. If you are trying to do some reading, I would recommend bringing headphones to help you focus. While it is not noisy, people are passing through.


Our Review:
Noise level:
  • Moderate
  • The big chairs are comfortable so that you can relax while you are reading and studying, but not too comfortable so that you fall asleep.
  • There are tables for group work.
  • The high ceilings, woodwork, and fireplaces really give you that grand, Ivy League feel, which can perhaps be an inspiring environment for you to work in.
  • There are a lot of food options downstairs for when you need a break!
  • It’s conveniently located in the center off campus, just off Spruce Street.
  • The building opens early and stays open late!


  • Be sure to check out different spots on campus to find what works best for you.
  • Remember, different study spots may be better for different subject areas and disciplines.
Let us know if you have any suggestions for where to study on campus!

Staff Writer: Kelcey Grogan, Learning Fellow & Instructor