In April 2014, Washington's oldest privately owned art museum entered into a collaboration with the National Gallery of Art and George Washington University. As of this writing, the National Gallery will acquire most of the art held by the formerly independent museum, while some of the pieces will be donated to museums around the country. The Corcoran's art—considered by many art historians to be one of the greatest collections of 18th-, 19th- and 20th-century European
and American masterpieces—includes paintings by Degas, Gilbert Stuart, John Copley, Rembrandt Peale, Mary Cassatt, and John Singer Sargent; photography by Richard Avedon and William Eggleston; and postwar art by Cy Twombly, Lee Bontecou, Andy Warhol, and Ellsworth Kelly. Modern and contemporary art will be displayed on the 2nd floor under the name Corcoran Contemporary, National Gallery of Art. Also in this marble Beaux Arts building will be a Corcoran Legacy Gallery, showcasing works that reflect the historical significance of the museum. As part of this partnership, George Washington University will manage not only the building, but also the highly reputed Corcoran School of Art + Design. Check the website for the latest news on this collaboration.
Sep 18, 2013
My spouse and I visited the Corcoran Museum in late May 2013. We visited on a Saturday, when admission is free as part of their Summer Saturdays program (normally, admission is $10 per adult). The permanent collection resides on the ground/first floor of the Beaux Arts building, with rotating exhibits on the second floor. The museum is a manageable size, and it is possible to visit in about 2 hours. Todd Gray’s Muse Cafe is on-site (although
it is kind of out-in-the-open, better designed for a quick bite than a formal meal), as well as a gift shop and coat/backpack check. Guided tours of the entire collection and of highlighted/spotlighted works are available at designated times throughout the day. We were primarily interested in seeing the few Impressionist paintings on display, including a few works by Monet and Renoir as well as pieces by Dutch and Flemish artists; however, we ended up being impressed by the collection of works by American artists like Warhol, Rothko, Whistler, Sargent, Cassatt, Homer, and Eakins. One gallery features an ornate, gilded room that was transported “in toto” from Paris, and another gallery features works hung in salon style rather than traditional museum style. We were interested in viewing one of the rotating exhibits on the second floor concerning war photography, but it was not yet open. We are glad that we got to sample the museum for free! It was a nice way to spend a few hours. We hope the Summer Saturdays program continues.