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PHILADELPHIA-Gov. Ed Rendell handed a check for $25 million to Mayor John Street to help fund construction of a museum for the Barnes Foundation art collection, which will relocate here from suburban Merion. The grant is from the state’s Redevelopment Capital Assistance Fund and designated specifically for construction of the building and not to endow the property.

Locally based Pew Charitable Trust heads an effort, joined by the Annenberg and Lenfest foundations, also based here, to raise $150 million for the building, which is projected to cost $100 million, and a sustaining endowment. The proposed site for the museum is at 20th Street and Benjamin Franklin Parkway where the Youth Study Center, a juvenile detention facility now stands.

A spokeswoman for the Barnes tells GlobeSt.com the city has not yet “given a turnover date for the site. The existing facility is still in use, and demolition will take some time. The building committee is in the process of considering architects. The Barnes is also looking for a new director, and the committee would want input from that person.” She confirms, however, that groundbreaking is still expected to take place in 2007 with an opening planned for 2009.

Philadelphia has long sought to bring the collection to the city. Before his death, Albert Barnes placed numerous restrictive covenants on the collection, which limited access, fees for visitors, the ability to raise funds and prohibited relocation. These restrictions, among other factors relating to management of the foundation, took the foundation to the brink of bankruptcy and led to several rounds of lawsuits. In December 2004, a judge ruled that the collection could be relocated here.

Barnes assembled the collection during the 1920s and 1930s. It is currently valued at between $25 billion and $35 billion. It contains 180 Renoirs, 69 Cezannes and 59 Mattisses along with works by Van Gogh, Degas, Gaugin, Manet, Monet and others. The judge has ruled that the art, objects, furnishings and artifacts in the collection be placed just as they are now in the building Barnes, who arranged the collection, built for them in Merion.

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