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The Barnes Foundation Litigation

Dr. Albert Barnes created the Barnes Foundation in 1952. He endowed it with $9 million and, far more important, a fabulous art collection, whose current value is estimated to be $6 billion. In setting up the Foundation, Dr. Barnes very carefully placed restrictions upon the Trustees so that the Foundation would carry out his educational objectives. In particular, he stated that the pictures could not be moved from the positions where he had placed them on the walls of his museum—a building on the Main Line just outside Philadelphia. Over time the trustees were drawn primarily from the trustees of Lincoln University, an historically black university in Philadelphia.

Unfortunately, the Foundation ran into severe financial difficulties, and it also experienced problems with its Main Line neighbors. The Foundation eventually found a solution to its problems: It would move the collection from its present location and build a replica of the Main Line building in Philadelphia near the Museum of Art and other museums. The Foundation's proposal had the support of major charities, including the Annenberg Foundation, as well as the active political backing of Mayor (now-Governor) Rendell.

Accordingly, the Barnes Foundation applied to the Orphan's Court for permission to amend the Trust and permit the re-location. The court granted that permission, over strenuous objection, in December, 2004. Planning has begun for the new building on what will be known as Museum Row.


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500 W. Baltimore Street, Baltimore, MD 21201-1786 PHONE: (410) 706-7214 FAX: (410) 706-4045 / TDD: (410) 706-7714

Copyright © 2014, University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law. All Rights Reserved