Wednesday, June 23, 2010

One More Thing

One further thought on Esplund on the Barnes. I think it's useful to distinguish between two sets of arguments against the move.

One set of arguments has to do with Barnes's intent. He wanted the collection to stay in Merion. Therefore it should stay in Merion.

The other has to do with whether or not it's a good idea to move the collection, irrespective of Barnes's wishes.

Suppose it were not a violation of Dr. Barnes's intent to move the collection to Philadelphia. Suppose he had said in his Will: "It is my intention that the collection stay in its curent location in Merion for 50 years following my death, but, recognizing as I do that circumstances change and you never know what the future will bring, after that I leave it up to the Foundation's trustees to decide what to do. I'm sure you'll do the right thing."

In that world, would it still be a "cultural tragedy" to move the collection 5 miles up the road (same works, same galleries, same hang)? And if so, why?

I think the cultural tragedy crowd should have to answer that question . . . without falling back on the crutch of "it's not what Barnes intended."