Corcoran College of Art and Design

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Corcoran School of the Arts and Design (CCAD)
USA-Corcoran Gallery of Art2.jpg
Motto Nos Exertus
Established 1890
Type Private
Parent institution
George Washington University
Academic staff
Undergraduates 350
Postgraduates 240
Location Washington, D.C., U.S.
Campus Urban

The Corcoran School of the Arts and Design (originally the Corcoran School of Art), founded in 1890, was the only professional college of art and design in Washington, D.C., United States, located in the Downtown area. The school is a private institution in association with the Corcoran Gallery of Art, which announced in 2014 that the school would be absorbed by George Washington University.[1]

The Corcoran Gallery of Art was Washington's first and largest private art museum until being absorbed by the National Gallery of Art in 2014. The gallery opened in 1874, originally built to house the collection of its founder, William Wilson Corcoran.[2] One of America's oldest art institutions, it predates both New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and is known around the world for its collection of historic and modern American art as well as European fine art and for its collection of decorative arts.

The School's Beginning[edit]

William Wilson Corcoran founded the Corcoran Gallery of Art in 1869. He donated additional funding to establish the school in 1878. The Corcoran’s evolving collection includes more than 17,000 works and objects and is considered one of the best American art collections in the world. Gallery 31 is the Corcoran’s dedicated exhibition space for the Corcoran College of Art + Design. The space hosts exhibitions by the Corcoran’s faculty, students, alumni, and visiting artists. The annual senior thesis exhibition is installed in the Corcoran Gallery of Art in the month of May. The Corcoran’s original 19th-century location at Pennsylvania Avenue and Seventeenth Street was designed by James Renwick and is now the Smithsonian Institution’s Renwick Gallery.

Construction began at 17th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue in 1859, but shortly after the exterior work was completed, the Quartermaster General's corps of the Union Army occupied the building, setting up offices for the duration of the Civil War. Upon its return in 1869, the gallery was formally founded as a public institution: the first special event held that year was a fundraiser for the completion of the Washington Monument. The gallery welcomed its first visitors in 1874 and art students immediately flocked to the gallery, eager to sketch and paint copies of the collection's famous works.

In 1877 the painter E.F. Andrews (1835–1915) started offering the visiting students and artists formal instruction in two dimensional media for no cost to the student. In 1878 William Wilson Corcoran donated additional funding to be used to establish a school to be associated with the gallery. After Corcoran's death in 1888 a small building was built in 1889 for the purpose of the gallery's burgeoning identity as a place for education in the arts. In 1890 the school officially opened as the Corcoran School of Art.[3]

By 1897 the institution had outgrown its original home, and moved to its present location. The Beaux-Arts style building was designed by Ernest Flagg and is considered to be a premier example of the style. By the start of the 1930s the school saw enough growth to begin its expansion. Commercial art classes, scholarships, children's courses, the library, ceramics facilities and courses, weekend classes and summer opportunities were added at this time. The school became a member of the National Association of Schools of Art in the mid-1970s and in 1978 awarded their first BFA degree. The school became fully accredited in the 1980s. During this time artists that taught for the school included Ed McGowin, William Christenberry, and Paul Reed.[4] Most recently, in 1999, the college changed its name formally to The Corcoran College of Art and Design and has established itself as Washington's singular four-year accredited institution for education in the arts.[3]

The College[edit]


Corcoran offers the degrees of Bachelor of Fine Arts (in Fine Arts, Photography, Photojournalism, Graphic Design, Digital Media Design, and Interior Design), Bachelor of Arts (in Art Studies), Master of Arts (in Art and the Book, Interior Design, Exhibition Design, Art Education, and—in partnership with the Smithsonian AssociatesHistory of Decorative Arts), a Masters in New Media Photojournalism, an Associate of Fine Arts degree, a Master of Arts in Teaching, and a joint BFA/MAT program.

Students are exposed to internships with organizations including National Geographic Magazine, embassies, and White House news photographers; summer study abroad trips in Italy, Greece, and India; and visiting artists such as Annie Leibovitz, Shepard Fairey, Maya Lin, Abelardo Morell, and William Pope. For a period of time in the spring, senior students' works for their senior theses are exhibited within the museum, giving the students experience in gallery openings as well as public exposure to their work.

The College has three buildings. The Downtown location houses most if not all academic offerings, the fine art facilities, the fine art photography and photojournalism facilities. A second building is located in Georgetown, housing the Digital Media, Graphic Design, and New Media Photojournalism programs, as well as many fine art offerings in painting and drawing. The third campus is on the National Mall at the Smithsonian's S. Dillon Ripley Center.

The College's Continuing Education Program, which offers partial credit and non-credit classes to children and adults, draws more than 3,500 participants every year. The Corcoran offers a pre-college portfolio development program in the summer for high school students.

Notable Alumni and Students[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^ History of the Corcoran / Corcoran Gallery of Art
  3. ^ a b History of the Corcoran / Corcoran Gallery of Art
  4. ^ E. J. Applewhite (1993). Washington Itself: An Informal Guide to the Capital of the United States. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 123. 
  5. ^ Dobryznski, Judith H. "Eugene Goossen, 76, Art Critic", The New York Times, July 17, 1997. Accessed July 25, 2010.
  6. ^ Craftsmen of Wisconsin by Bertha Kitchell Whyte, 1971, Western Publishing Company, Library of Congress 79-150495
  7. ^ Edwin Finckel,, accessed 1 January 2011
  8. ^ Artists and Architects, National Academy Museum 1083 Fifth Avenue New York, New York 10128 accessed June 4, 2015

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 38°53′44.8″N 77°2′24.8″W / 38.895778°N 77.040222°W / 38.895778; -77.040222