Posted on December 15, 2003
Barnes Foundation Court Hearing Concludes
PND - Barnes Foundation Court Hearing Concludes
A court hearing on proposed changes to the bylaws of the Barnes Foundation has concluded with Pew Charitable Trusts president Rebecca Rimel testifying that her organization is unlikely to continue supporting the Barnes unless the foundation gains permission to move its world-famous art collection from its current location on Philadelphia's Main Line to a new site in downtown Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.
During the four-day hearing before Montgomery County Orphans' Court Judge Stanley Ott, Barnes representatives argued that the foundation could face bankruptcy unless it was allowed to relocate its art collection which includes 181 Renoirs, 69 Cezannes, and 60 Matisses from the relatively inaccessible Lower Merion estate of its founder, Dr. Albert C. Barnes, to a new site along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway in downtown Philadelphia, where it presumably would attract more paying visitors.
"The choices really are...do you give [the Barnes] a new opportunity to thrive and reinvigorate the mission of Dr. Barnes, or do you let it wither and die in a circumstance where it is underfunded and underappreciated and underaccessed?" said Ralph Wellington, the foundation's lead attorney.
To prevent that from happening, Barnes officials have proposed a number of changes to the will of Dr. Barnes, who before he died in 1951 left instructions that the art he had amassed over his lifetime could not be moved from the gallery he had designed for it. But Howard Cyr, an attorney representing three Barnes art students who are fighting the proposed move, told the Inquirer that he did not believe the foundation had proved its case. "We think the record reflected that [the Barnes trustees] did not adequately explore their other options," said Cyr. Those options, according to courtroom testimony, include selling or leasing some of the paintings the Barnes has in storage, selling its 137-acre property in Chester County, and raising admission prices.