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The Corcoran Gallery in Washington, DC.

Defunct Corcoran Gallery Donates Nearly 11,000 Remaining Works

Four years after its controversial closure, the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, has announced its distribution plans for the nearly 11,000 works that remain in its collection. According to the Washington Post, the vast majority of the works will stay in Washington, DC, with around 9,000 works going to the American University Museum at the Katzen Arts Center and others being doled out to branches of the Smithsonian Institution, universities like Howard and Georgetown, and even the US Supreme Court, among other places.

Overall, the giveaway will benefit twenty-two Washington, DC, art institutions. The Corcoran was founded in 1869 and, before its shuttering, was one of the oldest privately funded cultural institutions in the city. Works in its renowned collection include photographs by Ansel Adams and Dorothea Lange, prints by Honoré Daumier, and paintings by Sam Gilliam.

Following a heated court battle, the Corcoran dissolved in 2014 after decades of financial difficulty. George Washington University inherited the institution’s educational facilities, building, and endowment, while the National Gallery of Art had first dibs on the 19,493 works, of which it acquired around 40 percent.

American University will now receive the bulk of the Corcoran’s collection. This is a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” curator Jack Rasmussen told the Washington Post. The works that will leave Washington, DC, comprise less than 1 percent of the collection and include ninety-two lace pieces, which will be sent to the Cooper-Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, in New York. “The Corcoran was the center of the art world in Washington, and the center of gravity has come over here a bit,” Rasmussen said. “We have the facility and the interest in Washington. The Corcoran legacy is our legacy, too. It’s Washington’s ­legacy.”

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