Corcoran Gallery of Art

From New World Encyclopedia

Corcoran Gallery of Art, main entrance on 17th Street.

The Corcoran Gallery of Art is the largest privately supported cultural institution in Washington, DC. The museum's main focus is American art.

The city's oldest private art gallery, it was founded by Washington philanthropist William Wilson Corcoran in 1869, and houses one of the most comprehensive collections of American art in the world. Corcoran's goal was that of "encouraging American genius" in the arts, and he was remarkably successful. Originally located in what is now the Renwick Gallery, at 17th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, his museum rapidly outgrew that space and in 1897 moved to a grand Beaux Arts building at 17th Street and New York Avenue, NW.

It was designed by Ernest Flagg, who also designed the Singer Office Building in New York and the US Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland. In the Corcoran Gallery's permanent collection are more than 14,000 items, most of them American. The Gallery also presents a variety of musical events, lectures, and educational programs.


William Wilson Corcoran

Founded in 1869 by William Wilson Corcoran, the co-founder of Riggs Bank, the Corcoran Gallery of Art was one of the first fine art galleries in the country. Its mission was, and is, to be "dedicated to art and used solely for the purpose of encouraging the American genius."

The original building, a Beaux-Arts structure by architect Ernest Flagg, covers 135,000 square feet. It was described by Frank Lloyd Wright as the "best designed building in Washington, DC." In 1928, a new wing was added to the building, designed by Charles Adams Platt, who also designed the Freer Gallery of Art, the Smithsonian museum that houses a fine collection of oriental art. A proposed addition by Frank O. Gehry would have more than doubled the museum's size, but was scrapped due to funding problems in the summer of 2005.

The Museum and its affiliated art and design college together have a staff of about 185 and an operating budget of about $20 million per year. Revenue comes from various sources, including grants and contributions, admission fees, tuition, membership dues, gift shop and restaurant sales, and an endowment currently worth around $30 million. In February 2001, two America Online executives, (Robert Pittman and Barry Schuler), and their wives donated an additional $30 million to the Museum, its largest single donation since its founding.

The Collections

The Ballet School, by Degas
Washington Before Yorktown, by Rembrandt Peale
The Seamstress, by Joseph DeCamp

The Corcoran's permanent collection includes works by Eugène Delacroix, Edgar Degas, Claude Monet, Rembrandt, Pablo Picasso, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Andy Warhol, and many others. There are always several exhibitions, which can be found on the museum's website. Individual collections are: European Art, Contemporary Art, Photography and Media Arts, Prints and Drawing, and the Corcoran collection of 19th century American Art, which is among the best in the world.

Together with its noted holdings of nineteenth century American prints and drawings, the collection brings the visitor face-to-face with the people, the landscape, and the lifestyles of a dramatically different time.

In keeping with its founder's commitment to the art of his day, the Corcoran continues to broaden its collection to include a wide selection of works by contemporary artists. Today, the Corcoran is renowned for its collection of twentieth century painting, sculpture, and photography. In total, the Corcoran's American holdings illuminate the nation's history and artistic development from colonial times through the twentieth century.


The museum is located at the intersection of New York Avenue and 17th Street in Northwest DC, one block away from the White House.


Sunday, Monday, and Wednesday: 10:00 a.m.–6:00 p.m. Thursday: 10:00 a.m.–9:00 p.m. Friday and Saturday: 10:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m. The Gallery is closed Tuesdays.

Besides the permanent collection, several temporary exhibitions are featured, which can be found on the museum's website.

Corcoran College of Art and Design

The Corcoran College of Art and Design, founded in 1890, is the only professional college of art and design in the District of Columbia. The school is a private institution under the auspices of the Corcoran Gallery of Art.

It offers Master of Arts degrees in Interior Design, History of Decorative Arts, a Master of Arts in Teaching in Art Education, Bachelor of Fine Arts degrees in Fine Arts, Digital Media Design, Graphic Design, Photography, Photojournalism, a joint Bachelor of Fine Arts-Master of Arts program in Teaching, an Associate of Fine Arts degrees in Fine Arts, Digital Media Design, and Graphic Design.

As of 2006, about 350 full-time students were enrolled in the Bachelor's degree program. For a period of time in the spring, senior students' works for their senior theses are exhibited within the museum, giving the students experience in gallery openings as well as public exposure to their work.

The College's Continuing Education Program, which offers partial credit and non-credit classes to children and adults, draws more than 3,500 participants every year.

ISBN links support NWE through referral fees

  • Cash, Sarah. American Treasures of the Corcoran Gallery of Art. Abbeville Press, 2000.
  • Haden, Francis Seymour, and James McNeil Whistler. Haden, Whistler, Pennell: Three Master Printmakers in the Corcoran Gallery of Art. Corcoran Gallery of Art, 1990.
  • Heartney, Eleanor. Capitol Collections-Masterworks from the Corcoran Gallery of Art. Third Millennium Publishers, 2006. ISBN 978-1903942154
  • Musacchio, Jacqueline Marie. Marvels of Maiolica: Italian Renaissance Ceramics from the Corcoran Gallery of Art Collection. Bunker Hill Publishing, 2004. ISBN 978-1593730369

External links

All links retrieved January 7, 2024.


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