Arts Desk

Corcoran and University of Maryland Weighing Partnership

University of Maryland Senior Vice President and Provost Mary Ann Rankin will meet with students and faculty at the Corcoran College of Art and Design on Monday, April 8, according to an internal email sent by Corcoran Provost Catherine Armour to Corcoran staff and faculty. Armour's email confirms that the Corcoran's board of trustees is meeting today to make a decision about a partnership with the University of Maryland. "[Rankin] will be here to learn more about you and the Corcoran, answer your questions, and have a discussion about the process of developing an academic partnership," Armour's email reads. "This discussion is an opportunity for both institutions to get acquainted."

Speaking with Washington City Paper, a board member of the Corcoran Gallery of Art could not confirm that the Corcoran Gallery of Art and College of Art + Design is entering into a partnership with the University of Maryland, as reported this morning by Washingtonian. Though, this board member was aware of the rumors of the deal—which have been rampant since February and were surfaced by philanthropist Wayne Reynolds at a Hay-Adams Hotel reception.

A spokesperson for the University of Maryland said that the school would be issuing a statement at the same time as the Corcoran, which may come this afternoon following the Corcoran's board meeting. Rankin has not returned calls for comment.

It is looking increasingly likely that Reynold's $10,000 party/pitch for the Corcoran Center for Creativity was a Hail Mary. At the Hay-Adams party, Reynolds said that a deal with the Terps was imminent. He said that this partnership follows efforts by the Corcoran to strike a deal with such universities as Harvard, Georgetown, New York University, George Mason University, and the University of Texas. Last October, the Corcoran announced that it was in negotiations with George Washington University and the National Gallery of Art to steward the Corcoran's college and gallery, respectively. Nothing came of those deliberations.

When I asked him for details about the deal, Reynolds said that University of Maryland president Wallace Loh and he shared a similar vision that would emphasize and expand on the college. Reynolds said that his vision, however, would maintain the Corcoran's independence.

The Corcoran could be facing financial collapse if a deal does not come through. Reynolds said that the Corcoran would not have been able to forecast current operations past March had it not decided to sell a suite of fine rugs at auction. One board member said that the Corcoran was "struggling to keep the lights on" and said that proceeds of the auction would indeed fund operations. The Corcoran insists that it abides by deaccessioning standards set by the American Association of Museum and American Association of Museum Directors, which prohibit museums from selling work from collections to pay operating costs.

Photo by Darrow Montgomery

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