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Opponents again try to stop Barnes move

The construction of the Barnes Museum on the Parkway in Philadelphia is well under way, and the neighborhood group opposed to moving the world-class art collection from Lower Merion to Center City is attempting once more to stop it.

Tuesday, the Friends of the Barnes will ask a judge to reopen the case after seven years.

In 2004 Judge Stanley Ott of the Montgomery County Orphans Court approved the move. Now the Friends are petitioning him to reconsider based on two pieces of information they claim he did not have at the time.

One is that the state Legislature had approved $100 million dollars in capital funds before Ott approved the move. The second is that then-Attorney General Michael Fisher had pressured Lincoln University to give up control of the Barnes Foundation. It’s something he admitted in the recent documentary, “The Art of the Steal.”

“I don’t know that we were ever as direct as saying, ‘We can take this away from you,’ because that would take a court to do that,” said Fisher in the film. “But I had to explain to them that maybe the attorney general’s office would have to take some action involving them that might have to change the complexion of the board.”

In response to the Friends’ petition, the Barnes Foundation filed an objection stating that all this information was known and reported by the local press when the court found in favor of the move. The objection also claims the Friends of the Barnes have no legal standing to challenge the court’s previous decision.

The Barnes is asking the judge to force the Friends group to pay all legal fees of the hearing.

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