“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,” said Harry Hopper, the chairman of the board. “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.”
The cost and logistics of relocating, as well as partnership ideas they hadn’t explored before, helped persuade the board members to discard a move. However, Hopper and gallery President Fred Bollerer would not discuss details, and mystery still surrounds exactly how the Corcoran will chart a viable course.
Hopper and Bollerer said the research convinced them that the museum could stay in the landmark Beaux-Arts building that has been its home since 1897, even though the handsome edifice needs about $130 million in renovations.
“What makes today much different than June is that a number of individuals, corporations, foundations, other organizations have understood the severity of the problem and have engaged in a way to allow us to continue to stay in this building and to assure the future,” Bollerer said. The repair bill, he added, “is still an issue we’re going to wrestle with.”
Members of the arts community and city leaders applauded word that Washington would not lose its oldest private art gallery to the suburbs.
“This is fantastic news, and we’re ready to roll up our sleeves and help in any way we can,” said Jayme McLellan, a gallery owner and founding member of Save the Corcoran, which sprung up in opposition to any move.
“This news has made my day,” said Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.). “The Corcoran brand is synonymous with the nation’s capital. We could no more picture the Corcoran moving out of the District than the National Gallery of Art moving.”
“It’s a good thing,” said David Levy, a former director of the Corcoran. “I think they have a real challenge in front of them, but there are answers.”
However, some Corcoran lovers asked what the point was of the last six months of anxiety.
“They could have decided this a year ago and spent the money, the time and the goodwill that exists for the Corcoran looking for real solutions,” said Roberta Faul-Zeitler, who was a public relations executive for the Corcoran in the 1980s. (Bollerer said the gallery spent no money, just staff time, in studying a move.)