Activists’ petition urges Corcoran Gallery to reconsider decision to sell building

A group opposing the potential sale of the Corcoran Gallery of Art’s historic Beaux-Arts building called upon its board chairman and director to reconsider their decision and “demonstrate a greater commitment” to remaining in Washington.

The Save the Corcoran Coalition on Monday sent Fred Bollerer, director and president, and board Chairman Harry F. Hopper III a 3,200-signature petition urging leaders to solicit greater community input and explore other options to make the 17th and New York Avenue NW location financially viable.

Officials made the June 4 decision to explore selling the building, citing repeated deficits and the need for nearly $130 million in renovations to the 1897 building. Since then, the Corcoran has sponsored two community meetings to detail the decision and get feedback, and it is hosting a third on Thursday to focus on the Corcoran College of Art + Design. But activists say the process hasn’t gone far enough in involving stakeholders.

At a meeting Aug. 2, Bollerer and several board members attended but did not speak, and they are not scheduled to do so at Thursday’s meeting, with Corcoran officials citing their desire to hear community concerns.

But a spokeswoman for Save the Corcoran, Jayme McLellan, said that for such an important decision, Corcoran officials in a decision-making capacity should “listen and dialogue with the community.” McLellan, who said there has been no response from the Corcoran to the petition, said “there’s not a cookie-cutter fix, but let’s come up with them together. I believe there are more solutions than problems.”

A statement from the Corcoran characterized the museum as “grateful” for outpourings of concern and expressions of support: “We want to reaffirm what we have already stated: that the Trustees are actively exploring every feasible option for the Corcoran.”

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