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Corcoran Uproar: Anti-Move Protest, CEO Job Description, Next Community Meeting

“Not for Sale”: Logo of the Save the Corcoran Coalition

The ad hoc Save the Corcoran Coalition recently sent a letter to the CEO of the Washington, DC, museum and art school, Fred Bollerer, its board chairman, Harry Hopper, and its board of trustees, calling upon them to “demonstrate a greater commitment to maintaining the
gallery’s home in Washington, DC.”

They suggested an action plan for expanding near the Corcoran’s current site in downtown Washington, rather than selling its Ernest Flagg-designed 1897 building and moving to another location in DC, Virginia or Maryland. The Corcoran recently solicited proposals from real estate firms interested in marketing its property. However, Mark Swartz, director of development communications, has said (scroll down) that a decision on whether to relocate will probably not be reached until the end of this year or the beginning of next.

According to the STC’s press release:

“Corcoran leaders have repeatedly noted the need for space, yet a
commercial building is under development adjacent to the museum [on property sold by the Corcoran],” said
Jayme McLellan, adjunct faculty member at the Corcoran College of Art +
Design and member of STC. “We respectfully ask leadership to negotiate
with Carr Properties about discounted or perhaps space donated in kind
in this building. It is a natural solution that would address several of
the challenges the Corcoran currently faces.”

The group’s petition, which calls upon the trustees “to halt this misguided effort to sell the Corcoran,” has garnered some 3,239 signatories at this writing.

Meanwhile, the Corcoran has posted search firm Heidrick & Struggles’ job description for its urgently needed new CEO. (Bollerer intends to leave later this year.) Here’s part of what they’re looking for:

A seasoned professional with 10 to 15 years of executive experience and a recognized track record leading an innovative organization in the education, museum, arts, design, or [emphasis added] content generation and/or distribution industries [who is] accomplished in shepherding an organization through a major transition process and/or re-envisioning a completely new strategy
for an established organization.

“A healthy sense of humor” and “a strong work ethic coupled with an assertive but non-abrasive style” are also on the long list of qualifications, as is an “advanced degree in education, business, or [emphasis added] art/cultural fields.”

The reason I’ve emphasized the two “or’s,” above, is that a background in the arts appears to be desired but not required.

Disappointed by the absence of board members at the Corcoran’s community meeting earlier this month regarding the future of the museum (which I covered here), the coaltion asked “that decision-makers [be] present and participate at the next community meeting [my link, not theirs],” focusing on the future of the Corcoran’s College of Art + Design, scheduled for 7 p.m. this Thursday.

Meanwhile, my old friend Jack Rasmussen, director and curator of the American University Museum, added his own statement of support for the coalition, as quoted on its press release:

The Corcoran has the best collection of 19th-century American painting
and the best facility for showing it in Washington. The Corcoran also has a tradition of supporting the living artists of this city. These two crucial and complementary
functions cannot be moved to the suburbs. They belong in the heart of
our nation’s capital, supported by a partnership of public and private
funders and a Board of Trustees fully committed to seeing the Corcoran
flourish here. Moving to the suburbs will surely kill the Corcoran
Museum of Art and its School of Art + Design, and leave a smoking crater
in our cultural landscape.

an ArtsJournal blog