Documentary on the Barnes move opens in Philadelphia

    The fight over the effort to move the Barnes art collection from Lower Merion to the Parkway has been raging for years. It has been compressed into an hour and forty-one minutes. From WHYY’s Arts and Culture desk, Peter Crimmins reports a documentary about the debate opens this weekend in Philadelphia.

    The fight over the effort to move the Barnes art collection from Lower Merion to the Parkway has been raging for years. It has been compressed into an hour and forty-one minutes. From WHYY’s Arts and Culture desk, Peter Crimmins reports a documentary about the debate opens this weekend in Philadelphia.

    It’s called The Art of the Steal, which hints at the position it takes on moving the collection from it longtime home in the suburbs of Philadelphia to a new museum in Center City. It’s been a minor hit at film festivals across the country, meeting with unexpected popularity. When it had it’s American premiere at the New York Film Festival in September, a second screening had to be added – a first in the festival’s 47-year history.

    Filmmaker Don Argott says the film has sparked heated debates at its showings.

    Argott: The New York Film Festival was the most lively discussion – people were yelling “Elitist!” at us because of the position the film takes. Then other people yell at them. It evokes this visceral reaction.

    Until now the film has never played in Philadelphia, a.k.a. Ground Zero. Several local people featured in the film protesting the move plan to rally outside the cinema.

    The Barnes Museum’s new home is already under construction and is expected to be open in 2012.

    Statement from Pew Charitable Trust on its support for the Barnes move

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