In the latest issue of The Weekly Standard, Lance Esplund has written a passionate critique of the Barnes Foundation's planned move to downtown Philadelphia. For its analysis of the Barnes collection alone, the article is extraordinary. The full essay can be found here.
The sad story of the Barnes is one The New Criterion has been covering for years. With the publication of Esplund's essay, I thought this would be an appropriate time to bring them together in one place. In a 1991 Note & Comment, "The Outlook for the Barnes Foundation," we looked at the institution's poor financial outlook and the museum/school's effort to sell paintings. In "Betraying a legacy: the case of the Barnes Foundation," Roger Kimball called out the Foundation's fundraising effort, which involved shipping the collection around the world, in violation of the Barnes trust. Then in 1996, there was the alarming case of the foundation's black director bringing charges of racial bias against the town commissioners of Merion, Pennsylvania. And finally in 2005, in "The Barnes Foundation, RIP," we lamented the foundation's decision to relocate to Philadelphia.
Is the Barnes move a done deal? At this point, probably so. Esplund has written a definitive essay on what we are about to lose.