After months of speculation, the Corcoran Gallery of Art has gone on the market. It appears, though, that the museum has not made definite plans to sell off its 115-year-old building just yet. In order to quell fears about shopping around for a new location, the museum has begun hosting town hall-style meetings between staff and the public. So far, the debates have provoked even more fears about the museum’s instability.
The first of the Corcoran’s public meetings was held on August 2nd, and the second is planned for August 23rd. According to reports from The Georgetowner, the audience at the first meeting panicked when museum staff discussed moving out of the D.C. area and into a nearby state. Virginia and Maryland were both tabled as options. Audience member and former Corcoran curator Linda Crocker Simmons remarked, “You would be committing suicide if you do such a thing.”
Not only would the museum be committing suicide, it could be breaking the law. The museum was formed in 1870 through an act of Congress which states that the museum would be formed inside the District of Columbia. This has prompted attention from the D.C. Attorney General’s office, which met with the museum in July.
The Corcoran’s public image isn’t looking too great right now thanks to the proposed move, but there’re some other changes happening at the museum that might fix that problem. The museum is currently searching for a new director to replace Fred Bollerer, who has held that position since 2010. On August 8th, the Corcoran posted a public job listing for the job, which makes Bollerer’s timing seem just about right: the Corcoran has shuffled through four directors within the past decade.
With no strong leader for the long term, the direction the museum will take seems very much up in the air. Assuming this position can be filled in a timely manner, the museum could very well reverse course and do what most people want it to do—stay at home.