Corcoran founded the Gallery for the purpose of "encouraging American genius" in the arts and built the first Gallery to house his collection of paintings and statuary. The original building was restored and is now the Renwick Museum of the Smithsonian Institution. Congress approved a public act incorporating the Trustees of the Corcoran Gallery and provided it with its charter in 1870. Mr. Corcoran then gave, in addition to the original building and grounds and his personal art collection, an endowment of $900,000 for the perpetual establishment and maintenance of the Gallery. He stipulated that the Gallery be opened without admission charge to the visitors at least two days a week. He then bequeathed an additional sum of $100,000 as an endowment for the Corcoran School of Art.
At the present day site, a second section of the building, known as the "Clark Wing," was built to house the collection of Montana Senator William Andrews Clark and financed by a grant from the Clark family. The Clark Wing was designed by Charles Adams Platt, who also designed the Freer Gallery of Art. A small section at the west end of the new wing was built at the same time at the Gallery's expense. The Clark Wing was inaugurated in 1928 with President Coolidge in attendance.
The permanent collection of the Gallery consists of well over 14,000 items, most of which are American. Its collections of European holdings are based primarily on the Clark collection mentioned above, and the Walker collection, from collectors Mary and Edward Walker. The Gallery houses the Corcoran School of Art, the only professional art school in the District of Columbia, as well as varied educational programs open to the public. Not only is the Corcoran an architectural achievement in the Beaux Arts tradition, but its continual dedication to art is a contribution to the cultural heritage of the nation's capital.
The Corcoran Gallery of Art is located at 17th St. and New York Ave., NW. It is open every day except Tuesdays from 10:00 am to 5:30 pm. The museum is closed Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Year's Day. Extended hours are Thursday evenings until 9:00 pm. Suggested contributions for admission to the Corcoran vary according to age and size of group. For more information please call 202/639-1700. Metro stop: Farragut West