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DonRocks

The Corcoran Gallery of Art (1874-2014), Private American Art Museum Now Closed, Leaving 17,000 Works To The National Gallery Of Art

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I'm curious to hear peoples' takes on the Corcoran Gallery of Art and its closure.

Above all else, I think that last year's dissolution of the Corcoran is the single-biggest loss to hit Washington, DC since ... when?

The College of Art and Design, the $200 million Beaux Arts Building, and $50 million in cash went to George Washington University - does anyone have a well-written backstory as to *why* this already-rich college got such an enormous windfall?

The 17,000 artworks, valued at $2 billion, were given to the National Gallery of Art. While I think that's wonderful, it also justifies a new building - are there any plans to either buy or construct one? The Corcoran collection could be a huge draw for whatever location they decide to put it in - from Feb 7, 2015 through May 3, 2015, three galleries in the NGA West Building were jam-packed with Corcoran treasures, and while this was certainly a treat for NGA visitors, something must be done in the long term in order to give these works of art their proper due. How much would something like this mean, for example, to Prince George's County? It would certainly lure me and my wallet out that way.

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I don't really know what to think of the Corcoran break-up. The collection goes to the National Gallery, but apart from the recent show how much of it is going to be exhibited to the public? With such a small (tiny!) fraction of the NGA's collection on view to begin with, how much of the Corcoran's collection, which mostly has less star-power than the works the NGA has on permanent display, is likely to supplant the works already accessible to the public? Not much, I would imagine. Please read the absolutely on-topic article by the excellent Michael O'Hare on art-museum malpractice here. This is one of the best articles you'll read this year.

On the other hand, most of the Corcoran's collection wasn't on display anyway. The beautiful building isn't being torn down. It's unclear to me what G.W. is going to do with the museum part of the building; I think they're using the school part for the school. Why the dissolution of the Corcoran involved such largesse to G.W. is a total mystery to me. Just what we need! G.W. owning more of Foggy Bottom! And it's not just the building (and the $50 million in cash thrown in for good measure). It's the ground and the new modernist office building facing New York Avenue (which I'm crazy in love with) as well, if I understand correctly.

As O'Hare's article makes clear, of course the art works held in storage by the major museums could be put to better use. But what can be done to force the museums to treat our patrimony more responsibly?

To me personally, though, the AFI's abandonment of their screening room at the Kennedy Center was a greater loss to Washington. Also, the destruction of this to build the Hoover FBI building:

945-PennsylvaniaAvenueNorthwest_zpseb965

That's the intersection of Pennsylvania Avenue, 10th Street, and D Street NW, which no longer exists. Note the charming statue of Benjamin Franklin, which was moved to its current position in front of the Old Post Office Pavilion, soon to be a (tasteful, I'm sure) Trump hotel. I totally loved that corner when I was a boy.

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The Corcoran Gallery website has a complete list of where the works will be distributed. 99 percent will stay in the DC area. 

Distributing Works from the Corcoran Collection

My understanding of the process is just about every art museum in the DC region was asked to prepare a "wish list" of works, and then the National Gallery was given first pick. While the NGA has already put on display works from the Corcoran, other museums are still waiting to receive their disbursement.  Mostly it has to do with finalizing the paperwork.   

Last week, American University made an announcement regarding the nearly 9,000 pieces of art they will receive.  Similar announcements will be forth coming from other art institutions in the weeks and months to come.       

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