Not really about the Barnes Collection

My comments about the Pew Charitable Trusts and their inflated cultural ambitions unleashed a torrent of responses from people concerned specifically with the future of the Barnes Collection, over which the Pew has gained control through court sanction.  As I dig out from under the flood of press releases issued by Friends of the Barnes and review the curatorial disapproval expressed by my blogging college culture grrrl, I feel the need to note that I have no opinion about whether the Barnes should be, or should have been, moved from its original site to downtown Philadelphia, and in general appeals to the testator’s intent leave me unmoved: he’s dead, we’re alive, and his collection should do the most good even vaguely consistent with his plans for it.  (Or even not consistent: who mourns for the scholarships once restricted to "white women of quality"?) 

But it’s often a bad sign–not dispositive, just symptomatic–when an institution’s purported savior is greeted with howls of protest by a significant portion of the institution’s constituency.  And the real question isn’t whether Dr. Barnes was wrong and Rebecca Rimel is right but whether we’ve somehow rigged the philanthropic system so that only Rimels, and not Barneses, get a hearing.

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2 Responses to “Not really about the Barnes Collection”

  1. Evelyn Yaari Says:

    You probably have seen it, but just in case, Marie Malaro’s article in the Summer 2007 NonProfit Quarterly echoes your message and delivers her own strong statement. ‘The New Goals at the Pew Charitable Trusts and the Fate of the Nonprofit Sector.

  2. Nonprofiteer Says:

    It is indeed an excellent piece (whose headline could well be, “Who Died and Made Rebecca Rimel Pope?”), though unavailable online; see http://www.nonprofitquarterly.org to find information about subscribing to the hard copy of the magazine.

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