Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Applying Cy Près to the Corcoran Gallery of Art

European websiteThe Washington Post reports that the Corcoran Galley of Art has filed papers in D.C. Superior Court outlining its plan to keep its collection in the DC area through an arrangement with George Washington University ( GWToday announcement) and the National Gallery of Art (National Gallery announcement).  As the article details, the plan is apparently driven by the fact the Corcoran has run deficits for 11 of the past 13 years, leading it to conclude that it is not financially possible for the gallery and related college to continue to operate in its  current form.  The Corcoran is therefore invoking the cy près doctrine to permit changes to how its collection and educational activities are handled in the future.

Under the plan the National Gallery will have first claim on the Corcoran's collection, with any art that the National Gallery chooses not to keep offered first to institutions within the city and then in a growing geographic area outside of the city.  The Attorney General for the District of Columbia must approve any transfer of art outside the city, however.   The entire process of allocating the artwork may start as early as mid-August.  For its part, George Washington University will take over the Corcoran College of Art and Design and also maintain the Corcoran's existing gallery space, as a fail-safe location for the collection taken by the National Gallery.  The Corcoran itself will continue to exist, but as a much smaller nonprofit organization devote to the arts.

For more information, see the motion filed by the The Trustee of the Corcoran Gallery of Art (courtesy of the Washington Post).

Hat Tip:  Miriam Galston (GWU)

Lloyd Mayer


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