The proposed dissolution of the Corcoran Gallery of Art and the Corcoran College of Art and Design may have hit a roadblock.
Amid accusations of board mismanagement, fundraising failures and questionable hiring practices, the Washington, D.C., group Save the Corcoran—formed to oppose the institution's takeover by the National Gallery of Art and George Washington University—filed a formal complaint in District of Columbia Superior Court yesterday to halt the deal. The opposition group, made up of museum donors, staff, and students at the Corcoran College of Art + Design, has accused the board of trustees of "financial mismanagement, corporate waste, and negligence in their duties," according to the suit.
The museum was founded in 1869 by William W. Corcoran, a wealthy banker and collector of American painting and sculpture. Announced in February and seemingly finalized in May, the Corcoran—which, according to the New York Times, has been running at a deficit for decades—planned to turn its collection of 17,000 artworks over to the National Gallery and other local institutions, and its art school to George Washington University.
Save the Corcoran claims that the takeover violates the 1869 deed that established the museum, and that the board's request of a cy près relief—which would allow the museum to amend the terms of the charitable trust—is premature and unwarranted. "At a minimum, we request that the Court not grant cy près relief until the Board provides a full financial accounting; and the complaint requests that the Court not reward the Trustees with such relief if their own unlawful actions have precipitated the Corcoran's demise," said Save the Corcoran's Jayme McLellan, in a post on the group's website