Wednesday, March 17, 2010

"Nobody viewing the movie should be under the illusion that they are getting a balanced representation of the issues and facts"

It seems that Gary Steuer -- the Chief Cultural Officer for the City of Philadelphia -- is a blogger, and today he has a post on the Barnes move. Because of who he is, I'm sure the Usual Suspects will dismiss his arguments out of hand, but it would be more interesting if they bothered to respond on the merits. Among the points he makes:
  • "If Dr. Barnes's commitment was to education and the use of the collection to educate people about art ... isn't there a great value to being located in a facility that is much more easily accessible ...?"
  • The new building "maintains the exact same arrangement of art in rooms of the same dimension, with windows and doors in exactly the same locations, and even with view through the windows onto a bucolic landscape being replicated."
  • "The prohibition on lending work or removing it other than for conservation will also be maintained."
  • "Because the intimate dimensions of the rooms will be preserved, there will still need to be limitations on the volume of visitors that can be accommodated per hour, but because the new building will be open many more hours than the Merion site, ... many more people will be able to access the Barnes collection than are now able to."
  • "The new building will create gallery space for temporary exhibitions, which the current building lacks. ... Temporary exhibition space will allow for fascinating curatorial exploration of the Barnes collection, mounting of exhibits that might illuminate the context of the man, the art and the times ...."
  • The city "is putting no capital money into the project, and has made no commitments to providing operating funding."
As I've said before, even on a worst-case interpretation of how we got here (i.e., there was a dark conspiracy to "steal" the collection), it's really hard to see the move as some sort of catastrophe.