May 14, 2018

The Corcoran is giving away the last 11,000 artworks in its collection.

The board of trustees of the defunct Washington D.C. museum announced Monday that it will distribute 11,000 artworks—including works by Sam Gilliam and Dorothea Lange—to several institutions, primarily those across the city. American University Museum at the Katzen Arts Center will receive some 9,000 pieces, including, as a press release states, work by Pablo Picasso and Rembrandt and American artists such as Winslow Homer, John Singer Sargent and Andy Warhol. Other pieces will go to The Smithsonian, the Supreme Court, and George Washington University (GWU), which bought the Corcoran’s former home and took over its educational arm, the Corcoran College of Art and Design. The distribution is part of the controversial 2014 agreement that accompanied the closing of the Corcoran, which faced financial trouble.
Under the terms, the National Gallery of Art had first right of refusal on the roughly 19,000 artworks held by the museum, and decided to accession 40% of the trove. Other museums across the country were then allowed to put in requests, which were ultimately reviewed and approved by the museum’s board. With the bulk of the works in the hands of the National Gallery, the Katzen, and GWU, most of the art has remained in Washington. “Having three anchors, where the bulk of the collection legacy of the Corcoran could be accessed, seemed like a great balance,” Harry F. Hopper III, the Corcoran board chairman, told the Washington Post.