The Corcoran Gallery of Art
A renowned private collection in a beautiful Beaux Arts museum building, the Corcoran was D.C.'s first art museum and is still the city's only college of art and design. Originally housed in what is now the Renwick Gallery, the collection outgrew its space and moved to its current location in 1897. It is currently undergoing another expansion, having once again outgrown its space with thousands of new objects added in recent years, with a new wing designed by Frank Gehry. Work is scheduled to be completed by 2009.Collection Highlights
The collection was amassed by William Corcoran (1798–1888), a Washington banker and philanthropist who realized how important it was to begin collecting American art, not just the European masters that everyone else with money was buying. Highlights of his personal collection include Bierstadt's
There are a number of important works by European artists here as well, such as Rubens, Delacroix, Renoir, Monet, Corot, Degas, and Turner. You can also see a working clock that once belonged to Marie Antoinette.Contemporary Works
Newer works by American artists include canvases by almost all the members of the Hudson River school, as well as paintings by Mary Cassatt, Thomas Eakins, Mark Rothko, and Helen Frankenthaler. In the lower level of the gallery, near the cafe, is a changing exhibit of works by African-American artists — the Corcoran has the largest collection of works by African-American artists in any American art museum and includes 350 works dating back to 1806. The museum has an especially energetic program of exhibitions and activities that has featured such diverse shows as “Picturing the Banjo,” “Dutch Royal Silver,” “Italian Renaissance Ceramics,” “Joan of Arc,” the history of photography, and a huge retrospective of American contemporary art.
The Corcoran is accessible to those with disabilities. Wheelchairs are available on a first-come, first-served basis.Restaurant and Gift Shop
The museum restaurant, Café des Artistes, offers wonderfully creative meals often tied to the show. You can fantasize that you are eating in ancient Greece, surrounded by stately columns with a copy of a frieze from the Parthenon on the walls above. There's also a Sunday gospel brunch accompanied by local gospel musicians. Price, which includes museum admission, is $24.95 for adults, and $11.95for children. Seating begins at 10:30
The museum shop offers an eclectic mix of unusual art-related gifts, apparel, kid stuff, books and one-of-a-kind items. You can also order from the Web site. Because the Corcoran has an art school, it often supports the work of local artists.Location and Hours
The Corcoran Gallery is located on 17th Street NW, between E Street and New York Avenue. Take the Metro to Farragut North (Red Line, K St. exit), or Farragut West (Orange or Blue Line, 17th St. exit).
The Corcoran is open Wednesday through Sunday between 10
Admission for adults is $8, $6 for seniors and military, and $4 for students with valid ID. Children under twelve get in free. There are fees for special exhibits. Visitors may pay as they wish on Thursdays after 5
One of the most influential architects of Washington in the nineteenth century was James Renwick, who brought an American sensibility to the neoclassic style that was prevalent at the time. He designed the Smithsonian Castle, the original Corcoran Gallery (now the Renwick Gallery), the gatehouse at Georgetown's Oak Hill Cemetery, St. Patrick's Cathedral and Grace Church in New York City, and Vassar College.