Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Barne's Foundation move... ho hum

The Barnes Foundation is moving from Lower Merion to the Parkway in Philadelphia. Depending on who you listen to,  it represents either the destruction of a great man's legacy and legal rights by a callous and ambitious political-cultural elite bent on seizing control of a billion dollar art collection... or it represents the liberation of a cultural treasure from the bear-trap of Barne's will, which have unfortunately seen the collection overseen by incompetent administrators and mainline blue hairs, where these overseers have been incompetent in many ways, for so long, that the will can no longer function in the interest of the collection.  From what I've read over the years, I conclude that both interpretations are correct.

In the end it's a power play. In the end, there is a billion dollar art collection, and the political-cultural elite want it. When there is a billion dollars on the table, there is no protection under the law, at least not when the facts of the case are as convoluted as they are here.  And they are convoluted. There are some people out there who have studied the facts of the case thoroughly, and all they do is disagree. This ambiguity has given opportunity to those who want to break Barne's will... and they have broken it.

I do not advocate the breaking of wills, or of violating various rights that citizens enjoy... no matter what good may be asserted as coming from it. That's not what this country is about, and that's not what our culture is about. However, I honestly don't know the legal status of the Barne's case. By pleading ignorance, I am free to choose whichever outcome suits my personal desire. My personal desire regarding the Barne's collection is that it should move to the parkway, so as to be significantly more accessible.

If someone were to prove to me that the breaking of the will was not just illegal, but deeply immoral, then I'd be in a tough spot. On the one hand, I support the rights of citizens to have their will honored. On the other hand, I am so majorly annoyed at what the Barne's Foundation seems to represent, that I would not want to support their claim. The Barne's Foundations attitude toward the collection may not be illegal, but it strikes me as deeply immoral. The issue then would come down to the moral status of each side. The morality of Barne's  having the right to leave a will has been talked about ad nauseum. What I am more curious about is the immorality of Barne's, and the foundation he left behind.

(see post on immorality of Dr. Barnes)

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