Corcoran Gallery of Art, the oldest and largest private museum in Washington, has been financially troubled and will be taken over by the government-backed National Gallery of Art, under a proposal announced Wednesday.
In a joint statement, the two cultural institutions said they were in talks that envision the National Gallery of Art assuming initial responsibility for the Corcoran's priceless collection of some 17,000 works of art.
The museum's 19th century premises just steps from the White House -- and in need of major renovations -- would meanwhile go to George Washington University, which would also take over the Corcoran College of Art and Design.
The proposal aims to keep the Corcoran open to the public and its collection -- featuring works by Claude Monet, Pablo Picasso, Edward Hopper and Willem de Kooning -- in the US capital.
"The Corcoran's great cultural, educational and civic resources that are at the heart of this city will not only remain in Washington but will become stronger, more exciting and more widely accessible," said the Corcoran's interim director and president Peggy Loar.
Founded by banker William Corcoran in 1869, the museum has been grappling with deficits for years, prompting talk that it might relocate to a larger, less expensive venue.