Leaders of the Corcoran Gallery of Art and Corcoran College of Art + Design, the National Gallery of Art and the George Washington University Thursday signed the final agreements for their historic collaboration. The agreements confirm and formalize the terms that were first announced in February.
The collaboration will maintain the historic Corcoran building as a showplace for art and a home for the Corcoran College and its programs, creating a global hub for the arts at GW. It will also safeguard the Corcoran’s collection and increase access to it as a public resource in Washington, D.C.
"These agreements will ensure that the legacy of the Corcoran will be preserved inWashington and carried forward into the future,” said Peggy Loar, interim director and president of the Corcoran Gallery of Art and Corcoran College of Art + Design. “As we proceed with the full realization of our collaboration, we are grateful to everyone in our community—board, staff, faculty, students, donors and the public—for the concern and support they continue to demonstrate."
As previously announced, the Corcoran College of Art + Design will become a part of GW. The university will operate the college, maintain its distinct identity within the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences and assume ownership of, and responsibility for, the Corcoran building, including its renovation. Students will continue to take classes in the Corcoran building. GW also will assume custody and care for a limited number of artworks that will remain permanently in place in the Corcoran building: the Canova Lions, the Salon Doré and the French Mantle.
Full-time faculty members of the Corcoran are transferring to GW after the closing of the transactions, and GW is committed to continuing their employment through at least August 2015. The university also will take ownership of the Fillmore building, currently used for classes in Georgetown. GW plans to sell this building to consolidate classes to the Corcoran building.
“I can’t imagine a more effective way to demonstrate the vitality of the arts and the power of arts education than this unprecedented three-way partnership among George Washington, the Corcoran and the National Gallery of Art,” said GW President Steven Knapp. “Together, we are building a kind of collaborative institution that the arts world has never before seen.”
The National Gallery of Art will organize and present exhibitions of modern and contemporary art within the Corcoran building. The National Gallery will maintain a Corcoran Legacy Gallery within the building, displaying a selection of works from the collection that are identified historically with the 17th Street landmark structure. These and other works of the Corcoran collection will be transferred to the care, custody and possession of the National Gallery of Art.
The National Gallery intends to accession a significant portion of these works into its own collection. Any such works will bear the credit line “Corcoran Collection” plus the historic donor credit line. Works that are not accessioned by the National Gallery will be distributed by the Corcoran to other art museums and appropriate entities with a preference given to those in the Washington, D.C. area. No work of art will be sold. The National Gallery is planning to hire 20 current Corcoran museum staff members, including curatorial staff.
“We are very pleased with the progress that has been made to date on this historic
collaboration, and we look forward to the opportunity to honor the Corcoran through the Legacy Gallery and by organizing special exhibitions and programs devoted to modern and contemporary art in the historic 17th Street building,” said Earl A. Powell III, director of the National Gallery of Art.
Under the agreements, the Corcoran board will pursue its original mission: “Dedicated to Art and Encouraging American Genius,” carrying forward the institution’s 145-year history by supporting stewardship of the Corcoran name and legacy. Joint advisory committees with GW, National Gallery and Corcoran representatives will consult and advise on programs and activities in the 17th Street building and will promote contemporary art and artists.
Prior to the final closing of the transactions, the Corcoran Board will seek a cy pres determination from the D.C. Superior Court. Cy pres allows a charitable organization to obtain court approval to change its method of implementing the mission to which it is dedicated, because its current means of implementing the mission have become impossible or impracticable. Timing of the final closing of the transactions is dependent on the court process.
To prepare for renovations and the new program of contemporary exhibitions, the galleries of the Corcoran building will close to the public on or about Oct. 1.