Isn’t it great! More public discussion about moving the Barnes Foundation to a location on the Ben Franklin Parkway is developing. However, this writer firmly believes that Lower Merion residents and municipal officials should oppose any move of Dr.Barnes cultural island of artistic treasures. Quite frequently one hears the argument that the current location excludes individuals that Dr.Barnes would have considered his target audience. Well if that were really the case, the Barnes Foundation would have never seen a visitor during Barnes life and until the present day if that visitor were not given the “Good Art Lover” seal by Barnes or his devotees. The ad hominem argument that is commonly put forth as reason to move the Barnes into Philadelphia is a shallow approach that attempts to make The Barnes Foundation a tourist destination for the masses.
The integrity of Barnes’ collection needs the nuances and details set forth by Dr.Barnes at its original location. With proper planning and considerations all manners of groups could experience the collection, in an atmosphere that was intended. The allegation that the foundation currently resides in an, “exclusive neighborhood and its distance from the city is off-putting.” Is is absurd! Such an allegation would have set Dr.Barnes into an artistic outrage. As a former, “blue-collar” resident of the City of Philadelphia…being exclusive and off-putting was nowhere remotely connected to Barnes’ Dewey vision of art and life. What precisely is the, “kind of public” that is intended to view the historic collection? Perhaps the truth should just be said…it’s really about revenue and dollars. The more people that art advocates can get to pay an admission fee to view the Barnes’ collection, the more money will be realized by the City of Philadelphia and profit only art conscious elite.
The Barnes Foundation is open to any individual or group that wants to visit the site. Any suggestions of elitism or exclusivity because of the location and the nature of the artistic collection is a purely parochial and misdirected view. The key here is a realistic plan that permits the foundation better access and more convenient transportation to the Lower Merion icon. Just wanting to bring the collection to the Benjamin Franklin Parkway to increase patronage and visits neglects the unique social history that resides at the Barnes Estate. A serious individual that wants to understand the truly aesthetic experience that Dr.Barnes envisioned would never move the collection. Movement for the same of visiting convenience would quite honestly destroy the allure and context of the collection.
The real solution here is to provide innovative and creative artistic curative procedures, coupled with a sound plan for a public implementation to provide as large a viewing public as possible. Merely relocating the collection is not the answer. Developing and improving the current Barnes Foundation is the enigmatic key that will unlock this old and tiring discussion of moving the Barnes.
 Once again I say…we cannot allow the cultural disintegration of the Barnes Foundation to occur. So called art cognoscenti and urban development planners need to stop salivating over the expected windfall anticipated from ticket
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