The Corcoran Gallery of Art has announced that it will add a curator of Washington art to its permanent staff.

The postition, not yet filled, has been underwritten for one year by the Friends of the Corcoran, a group of local donors who customarily use their annual contributions to purchase major works of contemporary art for the gallery. Last year's gift was a box by Joseph Cornell.

"This year the Friends decided to forgo a major acquisition so that the curatorship could get underway," said Jane Livingston, the Corcoran's associate director. Livington is currently responsible for dealing with Washington artists, organizing shows of their work and making purchases and acquisitions for the permanent collection.

"That is more than a full-time job in itself," she said.

"What we'd really like is an endowed chair for Washington art, but rather than wait for a gift of that magnitude, the Friends agreed to underwrite the job. I am confident that it will be made permanent if we can find the funds, and this is definitely a permanent position, at least in concept," said Livingston.

The new curator is expected to devote full time to artists and art galleries is the greater Washington area, and be the primary representative of the Corcoran in the local artistic communities.

The Corcoran has been criticized by many Washington artists who complain that the museum has been neither accessible nor sensitive to their needs.

"This is not a panacea, that's impossible," said Livingston, "but I hope it will be perceived as a gesture of real concern for the life of art in Washington."

According to Livingston, qualifications for the job, which they hope to fill by March, include a PhD or Masters' degree in art history, two years or the equivalent of museum curatorial work and a demonstrated writing ability. The salary is not fixed, but will not exceed $18,000.

"That's a lot for the Corcoran," she said. "Believe it or not, we have fulltime associate curators here who only earn $12,000 a year. People work here for love."