Museums in transition: Corcoran Gallery sees its finances improve after rough patch


Washington DC-Sept 27: Corcoran Museum of Art. (Marge Ely)
October 4, 2013

In April, the Corcoran Gallery of Art announced a partnership with the University of Maryland that the Corcoran said could lead to shared faculty members, joint student degrees and an expansion of the Corcoran College of Art and Design by hundreds of students. The details of that partnership have not been released but should be “coming soon,” according to Mimi Carter, spokeswoman for the Corcoran.

“Both the Corcoran and Maryland have worked on ‘self studies’ to find ways we could collaborate in areas such as admissions, research or collections conservation,” Carter said.

The partnership was announced during trying times for the Corcoran, which had been running a $7 million deficit. Its finances have improved dramatically since.

Auctions: The Corcoran sold 25 rugs and carpets at auction to raise money for new acquisitions of American and contemporary art. The auction brought in $43.7 million, with Sotheby’s taking a portion of the proceeds. The anonymous bidder paid $33.8 million for the 17th-century Clark Sickle-Leaf Carpet, breaking the record for the price of a rug sold at auction.

Bequests: Late last month, the Corcoran announced that it will receive $10 million in unrestricted cash from the estate of copper heiress Huguette Clark. It will also collect half of the proceeds in excess of $25 million from the sale of Claude Monet’s “Water Lilies.” “We’re going to be very guarded with these funds,” Peggy Loar, interim director of the Corcoran, said in an interview with The Washington Post’s David Montgomery. “This will help our operating situation, but [we’ll proceed] very carefully.”

Leadership: Loar has served as interim director since April and will continue in the role until a search committee chooses a permanent director. Carter said the search for a new director is not active; the gallery’s board will not resume the search until the partnership with the University of Maryland is completed.

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Katherine Boyle reports on arts, museums and culture for the Style section.
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