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PHILADELPHIA-The long-awaited ruling on the fate of the Barnes Foundation’s art collection, valued at up to $35 billion, is called in favor of its relocation from Lower Merion, PA to Center City. Mayor John Street immediately held a press conference applauding the decision and announcing that it would be located on 20th St. and Benjamin Franklin Parkway on the site of the existing Youth Study Center, which is the city’s juvenile detention facility.

The court ruling, made by Montgomery County Orphan’s Court Judge Stanley Ott, breaks many of the limiting restraints stipulated by the late Albert C. Barnes, which compounded with foundation mismanagement to leave the collection virtually bankrupt. Three locally based benefactors–Pew Charitable Trust and the Lennfest and Annenberg Foundations–have pledged to construct a new $100 million museum to house the collection here and another $50 million to help sustain it.

Many of the original covenants of Barnes’ trust, however, will remain in place. Among them is a faithful duplication of the positioning of art in the Lower Merion Barnes’ building. Barnes himself arranged the approximately 180 Renoirs, 69 Cezannes, 59 Mattisses, and various works by Van Gogh, Degas, Gaugin, Manet, Monet, and Seurat in a salon-like setting that stacks the paintings according to his own sense of their visual relationships and intersperses iron objects, furnishings and other artifacts among them.

Some limit on the number of visitors permitted in the galleries at one time will also remain, but the new museum will be able to stay open every day versus the current limit of three days a week; and the minimum fee, now at $5, may also be raised.

The new Barnes building will join a stretch of the parkway, capped to the West by the Philadelphia Museum of Art, that now contains the Rodin Museum, Franklin Institute, Free Library of Philadelphia, the Academy of Natural Sciences and a site for a planned Calder Museum and sculpture garden.

The existing Barnes’ site in Lower Merion will be maintained as administrative offices for the foundation, and Ker Feal, Barnes’ country estate in Chester Springs, PA, will open as an historical museum. The Youth Study Center will temporarily relocate to a men’s jail in North Philadelphia.

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