New petition filed to challenge move of Barnes Foundation's art to Philadelphia

Sign on fence surrounding the Barnes Foundation in Lower Merion. Sign on fence surrounding the Barnes Foundation in Lower Merion. Photo: GENE WALSH

The Friends of the Barnes Foundation announced this afternoon that an attorney representing the group has filed a petition with Montgomery County Orphan’s Court Judge Stanley R. Ott, asking him to reopen his 2004 decision to permit the gallery in Merion to move its priceless art collection to a new facility in Philadelphia.

In a Jan. 2 “Barnes Day” protest across Latch’s Lane from the gates of the Barnes Foundation grounds, the attorney, Samuel C. Stretton of West Chester, said he had been retained by the Friends group and would soon file a petition seeking examination of information that he said was not available to Ott during the course of hearings in 2003 and 2004.

“Barnes Day” marked the 139th anniversary of the birth of Dr. Albert C. Barnes, the pharmaceutical magnate who had the Paul Cret-designed gallery built in 1929 to house his collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist art, and who had wished it to remain intact in Merion.

Ott’s decision permitted the foundation to expand its board of trustees and move the art to a location on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway in a new building to be supported by contributions by several leading Philadelphia philanthropies. The foundation had argued that the institution was no longer financially viable in Merion.

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