The Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington received a surprising setback in court this week when a judge ruled that members of a group opposing the institution’s planned takeover deal with the National Gallery of Art and George Washington University have legal standing and will be able to have their grievances heard.
On Monday, Judge Robert Okun in D.C. Superior Court ruled that nine members of the group Save the Corcoran must be allowed as intervening parties to the Corcoran’s plan. According to the group, the nine include current students, a faculty member and a member of the gallery staff.
Okun’s decision maintained that the individuals have a special interest in the proceedings and could be affected by the outcome. The decision means that the opposing sides will convene in a hearing that will include witness testimony and other evidence.
Earlier this year, Corcoran officials embarked on a plan that would see the art institution being absorbed by the National Gallery of Art and GWU. The Corcoran has faced numerous financial challenges over the years and has explored merger or takeover arrangements with other organizations.
The current takeover deal still needs court approval before it can be finalized. Earlier this summer, Save the Corcoran filed papers in court to halt the takeover, arguing that Corcoran leaders have mismanaged the institution’s finances and that the deal “would destroy the Corcoran forever.”
Lawyers for the Corcoran said in their response that the lawsuit was seeking “obstruction for the sake of obstruction” and that the takeover is the “most appropriate arrangement” to preserve the Corcoran’s art collection and the renovation of the Corcoran’s beaux-arts-style building.
The nonprofit Corcoran has a 17,000-piece collection of American art from the 18th century to the present.