Wednesday, February 19, 2014

From the Corcoran

Just got the following today - later I may post some internal emails from two of the players involved (GWU has really good OFM going on, so folks there are somewhat uneasy in "sharing", so I don't have anything from GWU...) on this subject that gives an "insider's view" as to some of the politics involved in this (I think) somewhat positive move...
Dear Corcoran Community, 

Following the long period of investigation pursued by our Board, I have wonderful news to report.  The Corcoran Gallery of Art and Corcoran College of Art and Design, the National Gallery of Art, and the George Washington University (GW) today are announcing a proposed collaboration that would safeguard and increase access to the Corcoran's iconic collection as a resource for the public in Washington, DC; maintain the historic Corcoran building as the renovated showplace for an important new program of exhibitions of modern and contemporary art; and strengthen and elevate the Corcoran College and its programs. The collaboration would raise the stature of arts education in the District and expand the benefits, services, and interdisciplinary opportunities that both the National Gallery of Art and GW provide to students, museum-goers, and the Washington community.

Our three institutions are now entering a working period to set the definitive terms of a collaboration, under which the Corcoran College of Art and Design would become a part of the George Washington University. GW would operate the College, maintain its distinct identity, and assume ownership of, and responsibility for, the Corcoran building.  The National Gallery of Art would organize and present exhibitions of modern and contemporary art within the building under the name Corcoran Contemporary, National Gallery of Art. The National Gallery would also maintain and program a Corcoran Legacy Gallery within the building, displaying a selection of works from the collection that are closely identified with the 17th Street landmark. These and other works of the Corcoran collection would become the responsibility of the National Gallery of Art. Works accessioned by the National Gallery would bear the credit line "Corcoran Collection."  For works not accessioned by the National Gallery, the Corcoran, in consultation with the National Gallery, will develop a distribution policy and program.

As you know, this proposed arrangement among three prominent Washington, DC, institutions comes as the culmination of a five-year effort by the Corcoran's Board of Trustees to preserve the 17th Street building as both a museum space and a home for the College and to ensure the future of the Corcoran collection as a treasure accessible to all. Due to the challenges faced by the Corcoran, our Board has sought to achieve these goals by exploring collaborations with other cultural and educational institutions.

I want you to know that this coalition among our three institutions will open important new possibilities for Washington, DC.  The Corcoran's great cultural, educational, and civic resources, which are at the heart of this city, will not only remain in Washington but will become stronger, more exciting, and more widely accessible, in a way that stays centered on the Corcoran's dedication to art and mission of encouraging American genius and opens the galleries to all for free. We are deeply grateful for the bold imagination of the boards of all three institutions for working to make this outcome possible.

Our partner institutions are as thrilled as we are:

"All of us at the National Gallery of Art are excited at the prospect of working with the Corcoran and George Washington University in a unique collaboration that ensures the Corcoran legacy, keeps the core collection in the nation's capital and offers great opportunities for exhibitions of contemporary art and programming," said Earl A. Powell III, Director, National Gallery of Art.  

"The George Washington University will work with the Corcoran to create a world-class arts education program in close affiliation with the National Gallery of Art.  Such a program, situated in this iconic Washington landmark, will offer unparalleled opportunities for students and scholars, and provide a powerful new focus for the arts in the heart of the nation's capital," said GW President Steven Knapp. 

The terms stipulate that the Corcoran would continue as a non-profit organization, committed to its original mission, "Dedicated to Art and Encouraging American Genius," and continuing its 145-year history of pursuing and supporting new art and new ideas. The Corcoran would support the National Gallery of Art's and GW's stewardship of the Corcoran name and legacy, consult with and provide advice to the National Gallery and GW on programs and interconnected activities, and promote the important role of contemporary art and artists in provoking new thinking and realizing exciting new cultural initiatives.

Thank you so much for seeing this through with us. At this exceptional moment, we need your support and words of encouragement as never before.  The Corcoran's legacy is an incredible gift that will now stay in Washington, DC in perpetuity thanks to you and your unwavering support.

All best,

Peggy Loar
Interim Director and President
Corcoran Gallery of Art
Corcoran College of Art and Design