Corcoran Inks Deal with National Gallery, GWU


The Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., has signed an agreement with the National Gallery of Art (NGA), Washington, D.C., and that city’s George Washington University (GWU) on the future of the museum and art school. The agreement awaits approval from the D.C. Superior Court.

As previously announced, the Corcoran’s collection of 18th-, 19th- and 20th-century art, comprising some 17,000 examples, will be distributed among the NGA and other art museums, with preference given to D.C.-area institutions. No works will be sold.

The NGA will organize modern and contemporary art shows at the Corcoran’s landmark Beaux-Arts building on 17th Street, including works from the Corcoran’s existing collection.

The Corcoran College of Art + Design will become part of GWU, which will assume stewardship of the Corcoran’s physical plant.

Twenty current Corcoran staffers will be hired on at the NGA. The Corcoran has a total of 158 staff, including full-time faculty, according to a press representative. About a third have found new jobs since the announcement in February, a third will transfer to either NGA or GW and another third, about 30 to 40 people, will ultimately be laid off, the representative told A.i.A.

To allow for renovations, the museum will close Oct. 1.

Founded in 1869 from the holdings of banker William Wilson Corcoran, the cash-strapped museum was at the center of controversy beginning in summer 2012, when it announced that it would consider selling its 1897 Beaux-Arts building, designed by Ernest Flagg, and moving to a new location, possibly in suburban Alexandria, Va. or other sites in D.C. or Maryland. A move to the suburbs would have been similar to the relocation of the Barnes Collection, which controversially moved from Philadelphia’s suburbs into the city center that year. The museum later announced that it would stay put.