Corcoran wins judge’s approval for merger plans

The financially troubled Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington will have its art collection absorbed by the National Gallery of Art and its school merged with George Washington University.
(Manuel Balce Ceneta / Associated Press)

The Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington received approval from a judge Monday to proceed with its plan to merge with the National Gallery of Art and George Washington University, dealing a defeat to those who had filed a lawsuit in opposition to the agreement.

District of Columbia Superior Court Judge Robert Okun ruled that the merger was the most practical solution for the Corcoran, which has experienced significant financial difficulties. However, Okun also said in his decision that giving the order to dissolve the Corcoran was a painful one.

The decision means that the Corcoran may proceed with its plan that will see much of its art collection absorbed by the National Gallery. The Corcoran’s art school will become part of George Washington University.


As part of the deal, the National Gallery will present exhibitions of modern and contemporary art in the Corcoran’s historic Beaux-Arts building in Washington.

Works that are not accessioned by the National Gallery will be distributed by the Corcoran to other art museums. The Corcoran has said that no work of art will be sold and that all donor restrictions will be honored.

The Corcoran building will be closed to the public starting Oct. 1 to prepare for the transitions.

A group called Save the Corcoran had sued to oppose the agreement, criticizing Corcoran leaders for their management of the institution. The group included students, faculty and museum staff.

The institution, founded in 1869 by William Corcoran, has a 17,000-piece collection of American art that dates from the 18th century to the present.

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