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Barnes advocates still trying to stop move

Wednesday, May 20th, 2009

The battle for the Barnes is not over yet. The controversy surrounding the move of the art collection from the Barnes Foundation in Lower Merion to a new exhibition space on the Ben Franklin Parkway will come before the Delaware River Port Authority today.


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Six years ago the DRPA pledged a half-million dollars toward the expected 150 million dollar project to move the celebrated collection of paintings from the suburbs to downtown.

Evelyn Yaari of the Friends of the Barnes says a complete economic study has never been done. She says the DRPA should consider the impact the move will have on both the Parkway and Lower Merion.

Yaari: If you do want to give this money, you need to objectively study it. And if you decide you don’t want to give this money, there are other things that will benefit the region far more than this will.

The DRPA will not comment until they hear the presentation. The Friends of the Barnes attempted to block the move in court, saying it is against the wishes of Albert Barnes’ will. They were not successful. The city has already broken ground at the new museum site.


  • Robert Zaller says:

    A slight correction to your story: no study of the economic feasibility or environmental impact of a Barnes move has ever been done, except those commissioned by the Friends of the Barnes themselves. The Barnes board itself did none; Orphans Court ordered none; the city of Philadelphia did none; nor did DRPA. The only figure out there as a matter of court record is the Barnes’ own estimate (now five years old) of an annual deficit of $4.5 million in a center city location.

    Thank you for the coverage. I’m the gentleman who made the comment about the Barnes move being the biggest theft of art since World War II. Philadelphia media have been almost utterly silent about it, and hence complicit in it. I hope your story will be not only an honorable exception, but the beginning of honest accountability.

  • Evelyn Yaari says:

    Peter Crimmins is restoring my faith in WHYY as an information source on the Barnes controversy. A correction, please. The court petition of Friends of the Barnes Foundation was not based on Albert Barnes’s will. It was mostly based on significant changed circumstances that make the move completely unncessary and destructive. It also urged the court to consider additional facts:$107,000,000 appropriation of Pennsylvania taxpayer funding (S.B. 1213 passed in 2002) was not known to the Court; that Pew Head Rebecca Rimel gave court testimony inconsistent with other information given to the IRS; that the Pennsylvania Attorney General, who was supposed to represent the Barnes Trust and the public interest did neither, but rather sat as “second chair” to the petitioners. The disregard for Albert Barnes’s will, or more precisely, his Indenture of Trust was, sadly, a foregone conclusion.

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