After six months of public wrangling, the Corcoran Gallery of Art has decided to remain in its historic Beaux Arts home near the White House in Washington, D.C. The museum began floating the idea of selling the building six months ago and unwittingly unleashed a firestorm of opposition from students of the Corcoran College of Art and Design and members of the local arts community.
“What has happened between then and now is that the process of publicly exploring this idea has generated not only noise and indigestion, it has also generated an inflow of opportunities and information,” Harry Hopper, the chairman of the board, told the Washington Post, which broke the story. “We’re comfortable that there are enough paths to stay in the building. . . . We just were not in that position, we didn’t have this data in front of us, when we started the process.”
In June, Hopper and the Corcoran’s board president said that the building’s edifice would need about $130 million in renovations — money that might be better spent relocating to a new, larger space in the suburbs. By dipping its toe in the real estate market, the Corcoran now knows precisely how much its building is worth. That knowledge may help the museum’s leaders broach a partnership with another local institution such as George Washington University or the National Gallery of Art, leaders said.
Beyond affirming that the museum will stay put, the Corcoran’s bigwigs haven’t elaborated on their plans for the building or how exactly they will to raise the requisite funds to stay afloat. They have also declined to clarify whether the museum’s college will move elsewhere or remain part of the current campus.
— Julia Halperin