Fundraising Success Paints Brighter Picture for Barnes Foundation

June 28, 2011; Source: Philadelphia Inquirer | What a difference $200 million makes. That's the amount the Barnes Foundation said it has raised for its capital campaign, and more than enough to pay for a new facility going up in downtown Philadelphia to house its multibillion-dollar art collection.

In addition to its fundraising success, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports the Barnes has also achieved a stunning growth in museum membership over the past two years, leaping from 400 to a current total of 10,000. The Barnes is currently located in Merion, Penn., a suburb of Philadelphia.  For a decade it has been trying to move to a location that proponents said would increase its long-term viability. 

Now flush with cash, the Barnes will use $150 million for its new facility and set the balance aside for its endowment.  "The Barnes has long been handicapped by the lack of an adequate endowment, and this initial endowment is a critical step forward," said Derek Gillman, Barnes executive director and president.  Although it has wanted to move for years, the Barnes was prevented from doing so because of a trust indenture drawn up by founder Albert Barnes, a wealthy patent-medicine maker and art collector, that required that the museum remain in Merion.

In 2006, a judge granted the foundation the right to relocate.  However, opponents will have another day in Montgomery County Orphan's Court in Aug. 1, when they'll once again try to block the move. Barnes officials don't seem terribly concerned about the possible outcome of the hearing. They plan to close the Merion gallery on Sunday in preparation for their move. The Inquirer reports that if all goes according to plan, the museum's new facility will open in downtown Philadelphia next summer.—Bruce S. Trachtenberg