Barnes, who died in a 1951 car crash, left behind a trust that stipulated his collection could never be moved. It took a court fight for Barnes officials to embark on a world tour of the collection in the 1990s. The tour was a success in raising desperately needed funds but the fiscal picture remained grim.
After years of financial struggles, infighting and mismanagement allegations, Barnes Foundation officials in 2002 asked a judge’s permission to move a few miles south to downtown Philadelphia. They said staying in Merion, where hours and visitor numbers were strictly limited by the township, would lead to bankruptcy and the dismantling of the multibillion-dollar collection.
Three charitable foundations promised to help the Barnes raise $150 million upon the relocation’s approval, which happened in 2004.
“It was a long and arduous road but the [end] product is so wonderful,” Judge Allen said.
The legal squabbling continues in Montgomery County Court, largely related to legal fees in the epic case, even as champions of the move attend a week of galas welcoming the Barnes to the neighborhood it shares with the Rodin Museum and the Philadelphia Museum of Art.