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Corcoran Gallery of Art will stay put

December 11, 2012|By Christopher Knight, Los Angeles Times Art Critic
  • In a prime location near the White House, the Corcoran Gallery of Art opened to the public in 1897.
In a prime location near the White House, the Corcoran Gallery of Art opened… (Corcoran Gallery of Art )

The Corcoran Gallery of Art has apparently had a rare bout of clear-headed good sense: Its board of trustees has decided the Washington museum should remain in its historic building near the White House, the Associated Press reports.

Museum leaders had caused an uproar by suggesting that the cash-strapped institution might attempt to sell the building and move to the suburbs. A six-month study appears to have persuaded them to stay put.

The Corcoran's magnificent Beaux-Arts building was designed by Ernest Flagg and opened to the public in 1897 with President Grover Cleveland and his Cabinet in attendance. A restoration of its facade was completed last year. But the graceful interior, which features some of the loveliest galleries anywhere -- not to mention a superlative collection of 18th, 19th and early 20th century American painting and sculpture, as well as European art -- needs an overhaul that is estimated to cost $130 million.

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The Corcoran has struggled financially for many years, with a succession of directors and proposed rescue plans that have gone by the wayside. A tepid program and modest attendance haven't helped.

Possible partnerships with other D.C. museums, including the National Gallery of Art, have also been explored. According to the AP, museum officials said the plan to remain in its historic home could still include collaborating with another like-minded institution.

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