Friday, October 24, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Burning up over the Barnes

The passage of time doesn't make the theft easier to swallow

Burning up over the Barnes

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The picture that says a thousand words

Pardon me if I bite the hand that feeds me (okay, that provides me with a healthy snack,) but I have to get this off my chest.  This weekend seems to be a good time to do it.

The Daily News (and to a greater extent, the Inquirer) have been celebrating the Barnes ‘move’ to Philadelphia. I think ‘move’ in this context is analogous to saying “Patty Hearst was ‘moved’ from her home by the Symbionese Liberation Army.”

The Barnes is not ‘moving.’  It has been hijacked, kidnapped and legally severed from its moorings in Lower Merion, where it was nurtured for generations.  First, there was its founder, Albert Barnes, whose will was cavalierly violated.  Then, there was Violetta Di Mazza, the woman who picked up the artistic torch when he died.  And then, there were the generations of students who loved the Barnes Foundation as if those paintings were blood and breath and being, not just oil on canvas.

This ‘move’ to Philadelphia is an obscenity.  Who cares that hordes of city-dwellers with their sticky-fingered, texting children will be streaming through the halls of that million-dollar architectural tomb as a pit stop on their way to the Duck Boats.

Who cares that the proletariat will finally get a look at the rich man’s jewels, even though they have no idea what makes them valuable?

Who cares that the 99% will be able to ogle at the pretty pictures artfully arranged on carpetbagger walls?

Our two city papers and their friends, like Ed Rendell and the Pew Foundation, that’s who.  They celebrate what others-including yours truly-look at as a grave-robbing.

As my friend Tigre Hill might say, that’s the Shame of a City.


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See Christine Flowers on Channel 6's "Inside Story" Sunday at 11:30 a.m.

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