national gallery of art

Museologist? What will it take to Save the Corcoran...

Just to recap all of the other recaps from yesterday big news at the Corcoran…

  1. Corcoran is partnering with NGA for shows of their collection while the East Wing is under renovations.
  2. University of Maryland and the Corcoran have entered in to a Memorandum of Understanding that will begin the conversation of a future partnership.
  3. Museologist, Peggy Loar will now serve the Corcoran as the new Consulting Director.

This news left some a little disappointed and some angry, but for me, I was happy to hear progress.  While I praise the board on their efforts to push things forward, I question where these changes would only further solidify the end of the Corcoran as an independent organization. WHAT is a Museologist, you might ask? According to the interwebs, they are a person who studies the establishment and development of a museum and the museum industry.  But is hiring Peggy Loar another move that is too little, too late for the mighty Corcoran? I think so. In conjunction with the partnership with NGA, what is the point in Peggy coming on board? Other than the mention of her assisting in the negotiations with UMD, what can she really change to a museum that is already established, failing, but off and running nonetheless? Her resume, however impressive, does not include “saving” any of the organizations that she has spent time nurturing.  What I wish we could have heard yesterday are some of her immediate or long term plans for change, similar to what the Save the Corcoran endorsed Wayne Reynolds has made clear in his campaign to serve the organization.  This is not to say that I am in support of Mr. Reynolds, but he has valid points and a plan of action that we have yet to see from Ms. Loar.

As for said partnerships, as someone who has always been a supporter of the Corcoran, I hope they are beneficial, but I don’t see how they could be.  The Corcoran has sold its’ soul to the NGA “devil” and I would be surprised if it get’s it back.  Now, I’m not on the board and I imagine they reviewed documents carefully and crossed T’s and dotted I’s, but I would be surprised if this partnership wasn’t difficult to get out of, or worse yet that NGA in time will just claim the amazing Corcoran collection as their own.  Do we want the work that has belonged to the Corcoran for so long to become part of a greater collection where it will be seen less often? I don’t. But on the other hand, I am thankful that masterpieces that are a part of NGA’s collection won’t sit in storage. So I will leave this verdict on this particular partnership for future analysis as things unfold. As for the UMD announcement however, I am in favor. Not only do I feel that this partnership could only help the students that the Corcoran engages, but at a certain the Corcoran needs to decide if it’s first a museum or first a school. And by joining with UMD, which has a great program and helpful resources, the Corcoran can focus on being first a museum and second a school.  Students will be exposed to greater resources and their work to a wider audience of teachers and critics. I do hope that in her time as Consulting Director, that Ms. Loar that a long look at the advantages of this partnership.

While a lot remains to be seen with what impact this all has on the Corcoran and the greater DC art community as a whole, I hope we can all agree that this is a step in a direction, right or wrong remains to be seen…

For more write-ups, recaps and resources on the Corcoran see below.

Bringing the Art in DC to You,


Washington City Paper
Washington Post
The Corcoran Website

Save the Corcoran


 Image Courtesy of the Corcoran.