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Philly can handle it

October 19, 2003

Christopher KNIGHT is determined to save Philadelphians from themselves ("Getty Trust: Buy the Barnes," Oct. 12). He is outraged that they would have the temerity to suggest that the collection -- owned by a bankrupt entity, off-limits to most people who wish to see it -- should be made accessible to the general public. Knight suggests a Getty takeover. As a former Philadelphian, I can attest that the collection's present situation -- monitored by hyper-vigilant neighbors counting every visitor -- is about as accessible as Brentwood.

Knight compares moving the Barnes' art to Center City Philadelphia to ripping cave art out of Altamira, Spain. The analogy is completely specious. The art that is in the Barnes was not created there, nor created for that site; it was merely collected there. More people will learn more about Barnes' art historical intent in an accessible Center City site than they will if the collection is unreachably preserved in amber. The Barnes needs Center City Philadelphia -- a vibrant, growing place, not the "rundown" neighborhood Barnes assails -- at least as much as Center City needs the Barnes.

Perhaps Knight's energies might be better spent highlighting and advocating art resources closer to home.

Nathan Landau

Berkeley

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