The Save the Corcoran Coalition has done what no one else opposed to the potential sale of the downtown D.C. home of the Corcoran Gallery of Art has done in the month since news broke of the Corcoran’s plans to consider a move: collected some signatures.
Jacqueline Hiersteiner emailed Save the Corcoran members and others about the Change.org campaign launch yesterday. Hiersteiner, a Corcoran alum and current Corcoran Master’s student (who even got married at the Corcoran), says that the campaign is an effort to collect 10,000 signatures and present them to Corcoran president Fred Bollerer and board chair Harry Hopper III.
The petition appears to appeal to board members: “Vote NO on the sale of the Corcoran building,” its headline reads. (The full text of the letter follows below.) Although the Corcoran has held a public meeting about its decisionmaking process and pledged more public action, the decision to sell the building and seek a new site for its museum and College of Art + Design rests solely with the board of trustees.
So far—in less than 24 hours—the petition has garnered 1,092 signatures. The letter reads as follows:
Dear Trustees and Director,
I just signed the following petition addressed to: The Corcoran Gallery of Art Board of Trustees.
———————— Vote NO on the sale of the Corcoran building.
The Corcoran Gallery of Art is a National Historic Landmark that is under threat of being sold to the highest bidder. The Corcoran, one of America’s oldest museums, is home to a priceless and world-renowned collection of American art. It also houses the Corcoran College of Art & Design, a leading institution of higher learning for artists since 1890. The Corcoran’s proximity to official Washington, DC, has placed it at the center of artistic and cultural discourse for generations, but this rich legacy is at risk because of decisions that have been made without any input from the artists, students, faculty, donors and other stakeholders that give the institution its vitality.
I have signed this petition to halt this misguided effort to sell the Corcoran. Together, we are asking for an open and honest dialogue about the future of this priceless institution.
Vote NO on the sale of the Corcoran building.
The reaction to the potential sale and move of the Corcoran has been quiet relative to other protests in the museum’s history. After the Corcoran bowed to perceived political pressure over a planned Robert Mapplethorpe exhibit in 1989—a notorious moment in U.S. art history—activists projected slides of the exhibit onto the side of the Corcoran’s historic Flagg Building. (Even then-Senator Jesse Helms complained about the Corcoran canceling the show. Though he had spearheaded the opposition to Mapplethorpe and other artists, he stood to benefit from a public showdown in Washington against queer art.)
When opponents of the potential move met at Civilian Art Projects in mid-June, the tone was different—on purpose. Ringleader (and Civilian gallery director, and adjunct Corcoran instructor) Jayme McLellan distinguished present circumstances from other crises at the Corcoran, specifically the censorship episode in ’89. The point of that meeting was to brainstorm constructive suggestions to solve the Corcoran’s cashflow problems without giving up the building.
More radical gestures don’t appear to be in the offings for now. One reason why may be that Adrian Parsons is out of the game. The art provocateur who led a hunger strike for D.C. voting rights and a barn-raising for Occupy D.C. has taken a job at the Corcoran, Jenny Rogers reports.
Photo via Wikimedia Commons