GW, Corcoran and National Gallery Receive Approval to Implement Agreements

D.C. Superior Court approves historic collaboration; university moves forward with plans to establish Corcoran School of the Arts and Design

The Corcoran Flagg building
August 18, 2014

Leaders of the George Washington University, the Corcoran and the National Gallery of Art today received approval from the D.C. Superior Court to implement their historic agreements that were first announced in February 2014.

The parties now plan to move ahead to carry out the terms of the agreements in the coming weeks. The court’s ruling permits the parties to proceed with the transfer of ownership of the Corcoran’s historic 17th Street building and the College of Art and Design to GW. The National Gallery of Art will gain custody of the art collection.

“Today we take a dramatic step toward realizing a dynamic partnership that will safeguard the Corcoran legacy for generations to come," George Washington President Steven Knapp said. “The university looks forward to welcoming Corcoran College students, alumni, faculty and staff to the GW community and to working with them to continue and enhance their proud tradition of innovative arts education in our nation’s capital.”

The collaboration will maintain the historic building as a showplace for art and a home for the Corcoran College and its programs, creating a global hub for the arts at GW. The collaboration also will safeguard the Corcoran’s collection and increase access to it as a public resource in Washington.

“This is the beginning of a collaboration that will make the Corcoran collection more accessible to more people in the nation’s capital,” National Gallery of Art Director Earl A. Powell III said. “We look forward to restoring and programming the galleries in the historic 17th Street building with vibrant exhibitions of modern art, and to exhibiting a significant number of works from the Corcoran collection Flagg Building’s Legacy Gallery and at the National Gallery of Art.”

In February 2014, the Corcoran Gallery of Art entered into agreements with GW and the National Gallery of Art in order to assure a long-term, sustainable future for the Corcoran Gallery and the College and the rehabilitation and renovation of the historic Corcoran building.

The agreement will ensure the preservation and display of the Corcoran’s valuable collection of art, its retention within D.C., and the continued use of space within the historic Corcoran building for the exhibition of modern and contemporary art.

“We now embark upon this agreement to ensure that the Corcoran collections are stewarded as part of the nation’s cultural patrimony and safeguarded as a public resource in Washington,” Corcoran Interim Director and President Peggy Loar said

“The Corcoran school will be strengthened as it enlightens the next generation of American artists, and the historic Corcoran Beaux-Arts structure will be renovated as the site for its two traditional purposes—educating art and design students and exhibiting historic American masterpieces and thought-provoking contemporary art,” Ms. Loar said.

The Corcoran College of Art and Design will become a part of GW and will now be known as Corcoran School of the Arts and Design within GW’s Columbian College of Arts and Sciences. Corcoran students will continue to take classes in the Corcoran buildings.

The Corcoran School will maintain its distinct identity within the Columbian College. GW will assume ownership of, and responsibility for the Corcoran building, including its renovation, which is slated to begin early in October 2014.

GW also will assume custody of, and care for a limited number of artworks that will remain permanently in place in the Corcoran building: the Canova Lions, the Salon Doré and the French Mantle.

As previously announced, the National Gallery will organize and present exhibitions of modern and contemporary art within the Corcoran building.

The National Gallery also will maintain a Corcoran Legacy Gallery within the building, displaying a selection of works from the collection that are identified historically with the 17th Street landmark structure. These and other works of the Corcoran collection will be transferred to the custody of the National Gallery. The National Gallery of will accession a significant portion of these works into its own collection where they will bear the credit line “Corcoran Collection” plus the historic donor credit line.

The Corcoran will distribute works that are not accessioned by the National Gallery to other art museums and appropriate entities in the Washington area. No work of art will be sold. The National Gallery of Art and Corcoran curators have already begun to work together on the accession and distribution plan, which may take up to a year.