The Corcoran Gallery of Art now has a lot more money
Addition: An email exchange pointed out some defects in this entry. I know that accredited museums, when they sell artworks, are supposed to only use the monies for new acquisitions. I was making a joke. The Corcoran will not be using funds from the sale of the carpets for operations.
And related to the problems of the Corcoran and the problems of cultural planning within the city more generally, I offer these past entries for reference purposes:
-- Corcoran thinking of selling landmarked building, June 2012
-- Dancing with the one that brung ya, November 2011, about the role of the museum in DC in the context of National Memory and Mythmaking and the presence of federal government
-- Cultural resources planning in DC: In the land of the blind the one-eyed man is king, January 2007, about the failure of multiple cultural institutions as an indicator of deeper problems
-- Arts, Artistic Production, and Culture Districts Revisited, April 2012, about the difference between arts as production and arts as consumption.
The Corcoran Gallery of Art in DC is in an unenviable position, as it competes against national museums that get a great deal of federal funding--the National Gallery of Art and various units of the Smithsonian Institution.
It hasn't helped that they haven't been able to figure out their position in the cultural marketplace, and even though they are independent of the federal government, they can still be harmed by it, as they were by the debacle over their display of Robert Mapplethorpe photographs in 1989 ("Crowd at Corcoran Protests Mapplethorpe Cancellation" from the New York Times), and then by their plans to go "Bilbao" with an expansion based on a Frank Gehry building, which was opposed in some quarters because of the design's discordance with Washington's predominate classical architectural style, but they couldn't pull it off anyway ("Corcoran Director Quits; Trustees Shelve Gehry Plans" from the Washington Post). This led to the current problems they are in now (see the past blog entry, "The Corcoran Gallery in DC, MOCA in Los Angeles: two sides of a similar coin").
However, to raise money I guess, they decided to deaccession their collection of rare carpets.
The auction was yesterday at Sotheby's and according to the Doris Leslie Blau Gallery one of the carpets was sold for $33.8 million, which is a world record price, more than triple the previously highest price ($9.5 million).