7. Despite all its woes, and the ominous threat that its leaders may decide to abandon its landmark home and head for the burbs, the Corcoran continued to do good work, including small exhibitions such as “Manifest: Armed,” which looked at how guns, technology and communities interact; Taryn Simon’s unnerving, documentary photographic project; and the beautiful, calm-in-the-storm “Richard Diebenkorn: The Ocean Park Series,” which filled the gallery’s light-drenched galleries with lovely, light-drenched abstractions.
8. On second thought, Doug Aitken’s projection piece, “Song 1,” given a sumptuous, high-tech projection onto the cylindrical exterior wall of the Hirshhorn Museum last spring, doesn’t seem as deep as it did when it was being hyped. But on third thought, it made a lasting impression, transformed the dead space of the Mall during the height of cherry blossom season, and made the Hirshhorn a gathering space for a more diverse and youthful audience than many art museums attract. And at some level, one can’t argue with success.
9. Best idea: opening up and renovating the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library. The plans, announced in September, are still very basic, but the reasoning is sound. Designed by Mies van der Rohe in the late 1960s, the main branch of the District’s public library hasn’t served anyone well for a long time. But its bones are good, its pedigree impeccable and its potential limitless. Two possible reconstructions were unveiled, and both would reconfigure the interior to make it more accessible to modern library users. The renovation would also keep the building in service as a library, and keep the library located right where it needs to be: in the heart of a burgeoning cultural district downtown.
10. Worst idea:
moving the Corcoran, announced as a possibility in June. Financial woes and erratic leadership once again took their toll on the Corcoran when the current leadership announced that it was considering a boneheaded plan to sell the museum’s historic space and move to a new one, very likely in the suburbs. The news caused a horrible furor, and rightly so: The building, and the Corcoran’s central location in Washington, is vital to the museum and art school’s identity. At best, it started a conversation about the venerable institution’s future; at worst, it furthered the hemorrhaging of its resources and reputation.
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