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Philadelphia’s New Jewel: The Barnes, Part 4

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(Robert Zaller, of the group "Friends of the Barnes," speaking at a 2006 forum opposing the move of the foundation and its collection to Philadelphia.  Image from Youtube)

(Robert Zaller, of the group “Friends of the Barnes,” speaking at a 2006 forum opposing the move of the foundation and its collection to Philadelphia. Image from Youtube)

Steve Tawa Steve Tawa
Steve Tawa joined KYW Newsradio in 1990, and splits his time between...
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By Steve Tawa

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — While the opening of the new Barnes museum on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway carries a “wow” factor, the Barnes Foundation’s budget assumes there will be a steady stream of visitors over the year’s, providing at least 250,000 admission fees a year to the foundation’s coffers.

But the number of people admitted will be limited to 150 an hour, with timed purchases, according to Barnes executive director Derek Gillman.

“We don’t want them to be any more crowded in any one room than they were at Merion,” he says.

The Barnes’ business model includes a mix of revenue from admissions, the endowment, and private donations.

But Drexel University history professor Robert Zaller, a longtime opponent of the Barnes’ move from Merion to Museum Row, says it doesn’t add up that the Barnes will derive 60 percent of its annual $14-million budget from paid admissions.

“The American Association of Museums estimates that the average revenue drawn from admissions, concessions, and parking is about 15 to 20 percent,” he tells KYW Newsradio.

Zaller, who believes the Barnes Foundation will have to dip more deeply into endowment income and donations, wonders whether the new Barnes Museum can be financially viable over the long haul, or whether it will be taken over by another, stronger institution.

“My assumption is that the Barnes, under the current business model, must fail,” he says somberly.  “I believe the ultimate beneficiary, and the intended beneficiary all along, will be the Philadelphia Museum of Art.”

Read Part 1: The Galleries

Read Part 2: The Landscaping

Read Part 3:  Contentious History

——

Listen to KYW Newsradio 1060 all week long for more on the new Barnes Museum, opening May 19th on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia. 

And listen on Friday, May 18th, as KYW Newsradio broadcasts “Reporters Roundup,” live from the Barnes, 12 noon to 1pm!


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