The Corcoran Gallery of Art Stays in D.C., Faces New Challenges

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Photo courtesy Ouij, Flickr.

Ending months of speculation, Washington D.C.’s Corcoran Gallery of Art will not put up a “For Sale” sign. On Monday, the Museum announced it would remain in its historic 19th century home. That sends a nail through the coffin of a number of dramatic possibilities—moving to the Virginia suburbs had been tabled—raised in the name of salvaging the museum’s museum’s foundering finances. Nobody liked the idea. The Attorney General didn’t like it, preservationists didn’t like it, and the Corcoran College of Art and Design didn’t either.

From the sounds of Monday’s decision, the museum seems to be on the right track, but we’re not ready to bring out the balloons and cake just yet. The Corcoran still needs to find a way to become financially sound. According to David Montgomery in The Washington Post, the Corcoran posted deficits of more than $ 7 million in each of the last two years.

“There has to be some major changes,” Jayme McClellan told me over the phone this morning. She serves on the Advisory Committee for Save the Corcoran, and teaches at the Corcoran College of Art and Design.

“This is just phase one: get the building. The real hard work begins in reconstituting the board,” McClellan added. Since Save the Corcoran’s creation this summer, the group has grown to include a veritable “who’s who” of the city’s art community. The group believes the Corcoran needs to get its finances in order, but not by selling their building.

At the end of this semester, McClellan is taking leave from her post at the college in order to devote more time to the group.

Next week, Save the Corcoran will meet one-on-one with museum trustees to discuss the major changes they’d like to see take place with the board. This comes fresh off the heels of the organization’s meeting with the D.C. City Council. McClellan noted that that Jack Evans, Councilmember for the Corcoran’s ward, is on their side. The fight for the Corcoran’s future, it appears, won’t be ending anytime soon.


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