Judge Approves Dissolution of Corcoran Gallery

The Corcoran Gallery of Art. Photo courtesy of Mr.TinDC/Flickr.
The Corcoran Gallery of Art. Photo courtesy of Mr.TinDC/Flickr.

On Monday Judge Robert Okun of the District of Columbia’s Superior Court approved the plan to merge the Corcoran Gallery of Art (and its College of Art and Design) with the National Gallery of Art and George Washington University, the Washington Business Journal reports. Okun signed off on the cy près motion filed by the Corcoran trustees, whereby a non-profit organization seeks legal clearance to change how it goes about carrying out its mission. Though the judge conceded that the decision “effectively dissolves the Corcoran as an independent entity,” he also agreed with trustees that this course is preferable to the alternative.

“This court would find it even more painful to deny the relief requested and allow the Corcoran to face its likely demise—the likely dissolution of the college, the closing of the gallery and the dispersal of the gallery’s entire collection,” Okun wrote in his decision.

The legal battle over the Corcoran’s fate seemed poised to drag on—with the University of Maryland and philanthropist Wayne Reynolds making eleventh-hour offers—as supporters of the institution accused the administration of not exploring every alternative to dissolution and merging. But the plan to have GWU take over administration of the Corcoran’s school while the NGA handles its collection and exhibition program has won out.

“We did our best,” Camila Rondon, president of the student government at the Corcoran, told the AP. “I think we should be happy with how strong we were and how persistent we were and how far we got.”

Okun, for his part, sought to put a positive spin on what has been a painful process for many. “Undoubtedly, Mr. Corcoran would not be pleased by this turn of events,” the judge wrote. “It seems likely, however, that he would be pleased to see that the college will be preserved through its partnership with the very university to which he donated both property and his company’s archives…and that the gallery will be preserved through its partnership with one of the country’s pre-eminent art institutions.”


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