In a recent ruling, a Philadelphia judge granted the Barnes Foundation board the right to break its legal shackles. The Foundation can now lend some of the works of art from its collection to other cultural institutions.
The 1922 agreement between Albert C. Barnes, at the initiative of the institution, who died in 1951, and the Foundation, indeed stipulated that the vast collection of Impressionist works by Barnes was to be exhibited as it was at the time. day of his death or that of his wife.
In 2012, the Foundation’s move from Merion to Parkway was hotly contested. Some had argued that it violated Barnes’ original agreement, while others hailed it as an enrichment of the city’s cultural life and a catalyst for tourism. The new decision is equally criticized. According to Philadelphia InquirerPennsylvania-based attorney Richard R. Feudale tried to challenge July’s ruling by filing a motion Aug. 8, but it was denied.
However, the Foundation’s new loan policy remains highly regulated. Thus, no more than 20 paintings can be lent simultaneously, and no more than two paintings from the same room. No painting may be loaned for more than 12 months in any 24 month period or, in special circumstances, for more than 15 months in any 30 month period. These restrictions are intended to ensure that loans respect the educational mission of the Foundation and do not respond to political or financial interests.
The court decision is based on the argument that the Foundation is primarily an educational institution and not a museum. Lawyers and administrators of the Barnes Foundation recalled, during their testimony before the judge on April 10, that Albert C. Barnes had himself on many occasions loaned works from his collection to outside institutions.
In the 1990s, the Barnes Foundation was granted permission by the probate and guardianship court to organize an international tour of works, intended to raise $7 million to finance necessary repairs and renovations to its buildings. This traveling exhibition featured 80 works by masters such as Cézanne, Renoir, Matisse, Monet and Picasso, had been hosted by museums in Paris, Tokyo, Washington, Philadelphia, as well as in Texas and Ontario.