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Corcoran, the George Washington University and National Gallery receive approval to implement agreements
This 19 April, 2005 file photo shows the Corcoran Gallery of Art near the White House in Washington, DC. The art institution has been facing major financial emergencies over the past years. The Corcoran Gallery of Art, a major center of American art, both historic and contemporary, was founded for the purpose of encouraging American Genius, displaying an extensive collection of 18th, 19th, and 20th century American art representing most significant American artists. AFP PHOTO Karen BLEIER.

WASHINGTON, DC.- Leaders of the Corcoran Gallery of Art and Corcoran College of Art and Design, the George Washington University (GW) 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 and of custody of the art collection to the National Gallery of Art.

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.

“Today we take a dramatic step toward realizing a dynamic partnership that will safeguard the Corcoran legacy for generations to come,” said GW president Steven Knapp. “The George Washington University looks forward to welcoming Corcoran College students, 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.”

“This is the beginning of a collaboration that will make the Corcoran collection more accessible to more people in the nation’s capital,” said Earl A. Powell III, director of the National Gallery of Art. “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 in the Legacy Gallery in the Flagg Building 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;

• the rehabilitation and renovation of the historic Corcoran building;

• the preservation and display of the Corcoran’s valuable collection of art and its retention within the District of Columbia; 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,” stated Peggy Loar, interim director and president of the Corcoran. ” 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. We could have achieved this outcome only with the encouragement of many colleagues in the field, others in the community, and with the support provided by our trustees, staff, students, faculty, members and donors. We express our immense gratitude to all of them.”

The Corcoran College of Art and Design will become a part of GW and will now be known as The Corcoran School of the Arts and Design within GW’s Columbian College of Arts and Sciences. GW will operate the school; maintain its distinct identity within the Columbian College; and assume ownership of, and responsibility for, the Corcoran building, including its renovation, which is slated to begin early in October 2014. Students will continue to take classes in the Corcoran buildings. 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.

Also, as previously announced, the National Gallery of Art 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 of Art. The National Gallery 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. Works that are not accessioned by the National Gallery will be distributed by the Corcoran 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.

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