Arts Desk

If the Corcoran Must Move, Where Should It Go?

A few serious and silly suggestions

Anacostia
No, the Corcoran wouldn’t rake in the tourist dollars in Anacostia, at least not anytime soon, but it’ll finally demonstrate some long-term vision. There are lots of vacant or blighted properties in the Ward 8 neighborhood; presumably the Corcoran could snap something up for a song. It wouldn’t be alone there: The Corcoran could be neighbors with the small but plucky Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum. Sure, the ACM has had some challenges and mission changes in recent years, but it has a relationship with its audience unlike any other D.C. museum. A move to Anacostia could be an opportunity for the Corcoran Gallery of Art to direct energy toward outreach and education through its programs—and for the school to venture into public art, community art, and neighborhood-focused projects. The new Corcoran could be a cutting-edge agent of change. When was the last time a D.C. museum could say that?—Jeffry Cudlin

Hecht Company Warehouse
What does the Corcoran want? More exhibition space? Bigger studios? A college with larger enrollment? A building in which faculty and curators aren't confined to closets? Sounds like the Corcoran needs a warehouse. And there is one on New York Ave. NE: The Hecht Company Warehouse in Ivy City has been vacant since 2006. A Pennsylvania company lost it at auction after going i default in 2011. Douglas Development got it for a song, and (apart from a tweet about building condos in April) appears to have done little to it since. Exchange Beaux Arts for Art Deco—and mark the beginnings of an arts district in D.C.—John Anderson

Transformer
Currently, the Corcoran shows about 3 percent of its collection. Can you say “excessive?” Simple solution: Take over the Transformer gallery on P Street NW. The Corc will reap the bennies of its trendy location, and with only 152 square feet of space, the historic institution will be forced to downsize. Stuff the glut into storage and take a bath in all that saved cash! —Ally Schweitzer

15th Street NW
The Corcoran’s Fred Bollerer is fond of claiming that foot traffic on 17th Street NW is paltry compared to the foot traffic on 15th Street NW, on the other side of the White House—which might surprise the columns of fanny-packed tourists who file by the Corcoran during the day or the kickball players who walk by at night. So let the Corcoran have 15th Street, if it can find a site that’s suitable, and a building that will do as much to draw people in as its current Beaux Arts spot. As jealous as the Corcoran may be of 15th Street’s foot traffic, any other cultural institution in Washington should be jealous of its 17th Street home. —Kriston Capps

Potomac River
The Corcoran has enough troubles. Why let taxes be one of them? A floating campus could migrate across the Potomac River between Washington and Virginia, dropping anchor wherever property taxes are lowest, or better, avoiding them by floating to the opposite shore every time the government comes to collect. Bonus: What big-name donor wouldn’t love a booze cruise? —Alex Baca

Your Phone
While it may make sense for the board of the Corcoran to consider abandoning the institution’s crumbling (albeit historic) home, why would it contemplate replacing the building with yet more bricks and mortar? In 2012, both museum and college qua physical presence are obsolete concepts, if not fully corrupt ones.  A forward-thinking board would swap the street address for a pair of apps—a free “Corcoran Lite” could provide access to the permanent collection and gift shop while a full $9.99 version of the institution would also include special exhibits, library access, and in-App purchases of premium features such as classes, programs, and events. Unmooring from the physical will allow the institution to reach a far more diverse and geographically disperse audience—and all for a development cost that would be a fraction of the investment of a new building.—Jandos Rothstein

Hect Ware photo via Flickr user NCinDC/Creative Commons License. River photo via Paulo Ordoveza/ Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

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  • Gutnar Saanderasan

    There is a great lot, big enough to build a wonderful new place. Eastern Market/ Capitol Hill is discussing a project on the Old Hine School. Lot of community opposition to the developers plan, but would welcome with open arms the Corcoran.

  • Randy

    Let me get this straight -- The museum wants to move because they are deep in debt and can't afford the costs of maintaining a building, yet they want to move, and build a brand new, even more expensive building.

    Are these people nuts? I wouldn't give a dime to any organization that is so clueless about financial matters.

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