Neither the city nor its would-be partner, Drexel University, was willing Wednesday to put a price tag on the cost of maintaining and caring for the 100,000-plus artifact collection of the Philadelphia History Museum, which the city wants to pass along to Drexel.

Critics of the deal, which requires court approval, have argued that the agreements covering the transfer of the artifacts are long on generalities but short on nuts-and-bolts specifics.

Money is a key issue. The museum shut down in 2018 because of chronic financial difficulties. Now, no specific dollar amounts for support are contained in the transfer agreements. Nor are any dollar amounts attached to promised funding.

“The transfer agreement contains no commitment of funding, none,” said Tom Johnson, a lawyer for the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, which has been seeking to participate in the suit in Orphans’ Court. Orphans’ Court is involved because it has jurisdiction over cases involving trusts and wills.

HSP, seeking to become a library-only institution, transferred its own collection of paintings, furniture, and other non-archival materials to the museum more than a decade ago. Now the historical society, concerned about the fate of those objects, is seeking to enter the court case.

Many of the most famous artifacts in the collection, such as the desk used by George Washington when he served as president at Sixth and Market Streets, once belonged to HSP.

Judge Sheila Woods-Skipper, noting the HSP is a “former owner,” denied HSP’s petition to join the litigation as an interested party.

Kelly Lee, the city’s chief cultural officer and head of the Office of Arts, Culture, and the Creative Economy, said that the city had budgeted about $1.5 million for the museum through the 2024 fiscal year. But that money, which supports collection evaluation and the digitalization, is governed by its own separate agreement.

John Fry, Drexel’s president, said at the hearing that the university would be taking over responsibility for the collection “in perpetuity.” It would be “impossible for us to anticipate what the funding needs will be from now into the future,” Fry testified. “And so we prefer a flexible approach” without dollar figures involved.

Should the court approve the transfer of the collection, “we would ... take those obligations very seriously,” he said.

How would Drexel fund the ongoing care and conservation of the collection — particularly in light of the city’s persistent inability to support exactly the same effort?

Fry said that what he called a “restricted endowment” for support of the collection might possibly become part of a larger university funding drive or might be its own separate funding effort. The university is just finishing up a $750 million campaign, he said, and has now “commissioned and paid for a feasibility study to assess the potential interest of prospective donors, either individuals or foundations or other public agencies,” in raising money for the history museum collection.

Fry declined to elaborate after the hearing, citing the litigation, but said he would provide details once the court renders a decision.

“I’m not going to comment right now. Honestly, I feel like it’s better just to let this play out,” he said.

Woods-Skipper did not render a decision Wednesday but indicated one would be forthcoming as soon as possible.

David Rasner, the board chair of the Philadelphia History Museum, formerly known as the Atwater Kent Museum, expressed confidence in Drexel’s ability to raise enough money to care for the collection — even though Rasner participated in decades of failed funding efforts.

“I’m that confident that they will be a really good fiduciary to the collection,” Rasner said. “I’ve dealt with them now over a process of three years and trying to arrange a transfer plan or whatever. I think they’re committed. I believe they’re committed. They have the resources and also they have the technology for a museum to enter into the 21st century. Digitalization is extremely important.

“Do I regret that the city will not have its own history museum? Sure. No question about that. But I’m confident that Drexel will do what’s right, what’s appropriate, and will live up to their commitments as they express today.”