Apr 8, 2014

The end of an era: the Corcoran Gallery of Art

The Corcoran Gallery in Washington, D.C. was the largest privately funded museum of art at the time of its founding in 1869. It is now gone, being taken over by the National Gallery. According to Philip Kennicott of the Washington Post, even though it's being absorbed by the National Gallery, it is the "end of the Corcoran and its final dismemberment."

Washington Post article, Feb 19, 2014, by Philip Kennicott

" If the Corcoran Gallery of Art had to be swallowed up by a larger and healthier institution to survive, we might celebrate Wednesday’s announcement that its collection will be devoured by the National Gallery of Art. The National Gallery is hands down the most prestigious and respected steward of fine art in Washington, and its reputation is international. But this is not a swallowing of the Corcoran — this is the end of the Corcoran and its final dismemberment.

Everything that was darkly whispered about the Corcoran’s board over the past few years has come to pass: After decades of erratic and often incompetent leadership, it has seen the institution through to its demise. They will hand over the art to the National Gallery, which will take the pick of the lot and then distribute the rest through some program yet to be announced. A small “legacy” gallery featuring beloved works closely associated with the soon-to-be-defunct Corcoran brand will be maintained somewhere in the old building, which will be given to George Washington University. GWU will absorb the college and teaching functions. As a legal entity, the Corcoran will continue, although this will consist primarily of an advisory board and a name on the wall of the museum building on 17th Street NW."