Opponents of Corcoran Merger Score Legal Victory

The Corcoran Gallery.
Photo: Art Around, Laura Padgett/Flickr.
The Corcoran Gallery of Art.

The Corcoran Gallery of Art.

A small group of students and faculty who oppose the deal to restructure the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, scored a major procedural victory in court on July 21 when a judge ruled that they could be admitted as “intervening parties” in a proceeding to revise the institution’s 1869 charter. There will be a four-day hearing next week in DC Superior Court where opposing visions of what should become of the Corcoran will be tested through witness testimony and documentary evidence, according to a report by David Mont in the Washington Post.

The group of nine individuals includes seven current students of the Corcoran College of Art and Design, one anonymous faculty member and one anonymous member of the Corcoran Gallery staff. The latter two do not want to be identified for fear of retaliation, according to written declarations submitted to the court. The presiding judge, Robert Okun, ruled that the nine have “a special interest” in the proceedings and could be affected by its outcome. Amid what are described as “intractable financial problems,” the Corcoran is seeking court approval to turn over the college to George Washington University and to give most of the gallery’s art to the National Gallery of Art.

The ruling means that skeptics of the plan will have a chance to prove their case in court. They insist that the Corcoran can continue as an independent gallery and college and claim that leaders have not demonstrated that dissolving the institution is the only way to move forward.

Corcoran attorney Charles Patrizia warned the court that if the deal with the National Gallery and GWU is thwarted, the gallery may have to close and the future of the college would be thrown into doubt. The proposed arrangement between the parties is not set to close before August 12 and is contingent on the court’s approval.


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