Analytics at Wharton


How a Penn/Wharton Student Team Is Helping the Barnes Foundation Reach Bigger Audiences

Impressionist Painting

One of the world’s finest collections of impressionist, post-impressionist, and early modernist paintings, the Barnes Foundation experienced a transformative move in 2012 from its longtime home in Merion to a new building on Philadelphia’s Benjamin Franklin Parkway in 2012. Remarkably, the number of members went from 400 to 20,000 by the time they opened in Philadelphia. Attendance more than tripled the first year.

“Our mission as we moved to Philadelphia was to welcome people of all ages, ethnicities, and economic backgrounds,” said Peg Zminda, executive vice president, chief financial officer, and chief operating officer of the Barnes. “The scope of our operation is very different now compared to when we were in Merion.”

But with that broad success came some new challenges.

“When we opened we were the hottest ticket in town,” said Zminda. “What we’ve seen over the past six years is that demand has declined. You expect that from a new cultural institution, but we have not yet figured out what a steady state looks like.”

The Barnes heard about Wharton’s Analytics Accelerator, submitted a proposal, and was chosen for the data challenge.

About the Analytics Accelerator

Every fall and spring semester, Wharton hosts the Analytics Accelerator, an experiential learning program that pairs students with a company to solve a real-world business problem using the company’s actual datasets and the latest techniques including machine learning and AI.