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The Fate of the Corcoran Gallery’s Collection Remains Uncertain

The former Corcoran building.

The former Corcoran building.

Five months have passed since a judge approved the Corcoran Gallery of Art’s merger with the National Gallery of Art and George Washington University in Washington D.C., but the status of the Corcoran’s holdings remains murky, and the National Gallery is staying quiet about it.

This is according to The Washington Post, which was told by an NGA spokesperson, “Our curators are going through [the Corcoran inventory] and, in accordance with what we collect already, are looking through the works for what makes sense to accession.”

The NGA has right of first refusal to the Corcoran’s collection, and has agreed to “help find homes for the works it doesn’t want,” in The Post’s words. The taste of the NGA’s curators is not the only factor in placing the works, however, with The Post citing the Corcoran’s history of “sloppy organization” as a road block in the current proceedings.

“For example, a painting by Paul Reed—one of the last living members of the Washington Color School—was returned to the 95-year-old artist this summer. Reed said Corcoran officials brought it to his Arlington home when they couldn’t find its paperwork in their archives.” (The NGA spokesperson said the work was a “temporary loan.”)

Several art-world figures complained on the record that the NGA is offering “no transparency,” though the museum has defended itself by saying the merger requires “a painstaking review” of Corcoran’s holdings.

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