Major Changes are Afoot at the Corcoran

by Corinna Kirsch on April 4, 2013 Newswire

The Corcoran Gallery of Art and College of Art and Design is partnering with the University of Maryland and the National Gallery of Art. Details remain sparse, but the two separate arrangements are said to provide “significant cost savings” for the museum and school.  The April 3rd announcement coincides with the appointment of a new director, Peggy Loar. For financially unstable museums, the new cardinal rule seems to be finding friends to bail you out.

The Corcoran’s alliance with the NGA will be an exhibition exchange, whereby the NGA’s artworks will be on loan to the museum for three years. The NGA previously offered an exhibition partnership with Los Angeles’ MOCA earlier this year.

The NGA has not disclosed what it will receive in exchange for the Corcoran partnership. In 2011, the NGA garnered $ 2,855,775 from exhibition loan revenue.

Unlike the NGA plan, the Corcoran’s proposed partnership with the University of Maryland partnership is not quite spelled out.  Located across state lines, but less than ten miles away, the university, will be given “access to the Corcoran collection and the resources of the College.” A final determination will be made by the end of summer.

All these decisions come to the surprise of many following the Corcoran’s financial troubles, resulting in student protests over the last two days. Save the Corcoran, an advocacy group formed soon after the Corcoran’s June 2012 announcement to consider selling their building, released the following statement this morning:

Save the Corcoran Response to Corcoran/University of Maryland Partnership Announcement:

Save the Corcoran opposes the University of Maryland deal. The Corcoran should not accept partners out of financial desperation and failure of leadership. It should seek partners only after it has created a strong plan and vision statement that includes feedback from the community.

The board is entrusted to preserve the iconic institution. This appears to be a step in the wrong direction. The Board still is not acting within the best interests of students and faculty, as shown by today’s protest by students. And the larger community remains left out of any conversations about the Corcoran’s future. The board continues to operate in the dark, in secret, with no meaningful input from the community.

The Corcoran board now reiterates that the museum will stay put in its current location.

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