My piece in today’s Wall Street Journal on the possible dismantling of the Corcoran Gallery of Art got Kriston Capps of The Atlantic all a-Twitter, resulting in a somewhat contentious conversation between us on how to salvage that endangered museum. In his previous gig at the Washington City Paper, Capps was one of the most cogent commentators on the Corcoran mess, so I enjoyed our friendly sniping in snippets.
Below is my Storify of that dialogue, which ends with a reference to the Corcoran’s aborted deal with the University of Maryland (UMD). One bit of news that came out of the Corcoran hearings, still in-progress in D.C. Superior Court, was why that deal foundered.
Corcoran COO Lauren Stack spilled some details during her testimony as the trustees’ lead-off witness last week, and more was said Thursday when UMD President Wallace Loh was called to the stand by the opponents to the current deal (for which court aproval is being sought) with George Washington University and the National Gallery of Art.
As reported by David Montgomery of the Washington Post, the deficiencies of UMD’s proposals, as perceived by the Corcoran trustees, included these:
The $46 million from Maryland would have included loans and might not cover all costs; the Corcoran would have had to give Maryland a security interest in the landmark building near the White House; Maryland insisted that the nearly bankrupt gallery pay substantial renovation costs; and Maryland would get to nominate a majority of the board of trustees.
But Loh asserted (as reported by Montgomery) that “the money would have had to have been repaid only if the Corcoran backed out of the partnership…and Maryland would have been willing to contribute more in the future.”
Loh’s current thoughts on possible reviving discussions with the Corcoran are contained in this letter. Here are the reservations I expressed about the UMD deal when the proposal was first announced four months ago.
Here’s my Kriston colloquy: