Three Groups Try To Save Corcoran

Three storied Washington, D.C. institutions have begun a process to maintain the historic Corcoran Gallery of Art and its renowned art collection. Definitive terms of the collaboration between the National Gallery of Art, George Washington University (GW), the Corcoran Gallery of Art and Corcoran College of Art + Design will be set in upcoming discussions. An announcement yesterday indicated that the College of Art + Design would become part of GW.

The collaboration comes after a five-year effort by the Corcoran’s Board of Trustees to preserve the building as a museum space and a home for the college, ensuring the future of its collection. Due to the challenges faced by the museum, the board has “sought to achieve these goals by exploring collaborations with other cultural and educational institutions,” according to a press release announcing the initiative.

The university would operate the college and assume ownership and responsibility of the Corcoran building. The National Gallery would organize and present exhibitions of modern and contemporary art within the building, under the name, Corcoran Contemporary, National Gallery of Art. The gallery also would maintain a Corcoran Legacy Gallery within the building, displaying works from the collection that are closely identified with the 17th Street landmark building and would become responsibility of the gallery.

The 145-year-old Corcoran Gallery would continue as a nonprofit committed to its original mission; support the National Gallery and the university’s stewardship of the Corcoran name and legacy; consult with and provide advice to the gallery and GW on programs and activities, and promote the role of contemporary art and artists.

The Corcoran building was estimated to be valued at $40 million to $60 million as office space, according to a report in The Washington Post, and while GW would not have to pay for the building, it would be responsible for renovations. The three entities have set an April 7 deadline to determine specifics of the partnership, according to the report.

The Corcoran Gallery reported total revenue of $43 million for the fiscal year ending in June 2012, an increase thanks to a bump in investment income. Total revenue is more typically in the $24 million to $28 million range, according to previous tax forms, with some $20 million derived through program revenue.

Unrestricted net assets were reported to be $8.9 million at the end of that year.

The National Gallery of Art reported total revenue of $217.9 million for the fiscal year ending September 2012 to rank No. 77 on The NPT 100, The NonProfit Times’ annual study of the largest nonprofits in the United States. The largest portion of revenue was from government source, about $128 million, with about $48.5 million in investment income and another $35.5 million in public support.