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Corcoran Gallery of Art and Corcoran College of Art + Design, Corcoran Gallery of Art education department records

 Record Group
Identifier: COR-0006-0-RG
The creation of the Education Department in 1965 coincided with the conviction on the part of the Corcoran that a museum art gallery should be more than a repository for precious objects, but rather, that is should be a force in moving art from its ''exclusive" status to a position of general availability to the public. With this goal in mind, the Education Department developed art experiences for Washington area young people and adults that are a crucial mixture of workshop activity and exposure to original works of art. The records of the Education Department reflect its desire to provide an operational base for the crucial mixture of basic art history, the museum process, and the workshop process. The records cover all aspects of the Education Department's operation and administration and include: docent notebooks and training material; intern notebooks and training material; proposals to create an education department; standard operating procedures; budgets; grant proposals and funds; correspondence; activities notebooks; resource notebooks; school workshops; public liaison committee; school tours program; lesson plans and notes for school tours; programs offered; exhibition labels and research materials; film lists; lectures and lecture possibilities; publicity; and bibliographic material.

Names that are prominent in the Education Department records are: Roger L. Selby Sue Ann Hoth David Stevens Susan Gans Donna Ari Theresa Simmons Barbara Moore

Dates

  • circa 1961-2010

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open to research.

When conducting research within The Corcoran Archives collections, pleased be advised of the following exceptions:

Records of the Board of Trustees (RG 1.0) and records of the Office of the Director (RG 2.0) are closed to research for 25 years from the date of creation.

Development records are closed to research (RG 3.2).

Access to student records is governed by the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), which protects the privacy of student education records. Student records are closed for the lifetime of the student, and are presumed to be open 75 years after the date of record creation (RG 9.0 Series 4).

Personnel and financial records are closed for 50 years from date of record creation (RG 4.0).

Please see the Public Services and Instruction Librarian for assistance.

Conditions Governing Use

To the extent that the institution owns copyright, the donor has assigned the copyright in its works to The George Washington University; however, copyright in other items in this collection may be held by their respective creators. For activities that the researcher determines fall under fair use as defined under U.S. Copyright Law, no permission to cite or publish is required. Please contact Special Collections if the copyright status of the materials you wish to reuse is unclear. Staff will provide additional information. For re-use of materials in the collection not created by the donor, researchers are responsible for determining who may hold materials' copyrights, determining if the intended re-use falls under fair use, and obtaining approval from the copyright holder if the intended use does not fall under fair use. For such materials, researchers do not need anything further from The George Washington University’s Special Collections Research Center.

Extent

105 Linear Feet (70 record center cartons)

Overview

In 1955 a small group of volunteer women began guiding tours through the Corcoran Gallery of Art. This initial docent program was successful but could not be adequately administered by the Curator whose other Gallery responsibilities were equally demanding. It became obvious to the Women's Committee that the existing tour program could only be met by the establishment of a permanent office with a full-time staff. The Women's Committee argued and generously supported the view that the Corcoran needed an Education department, not only to administer the docent program but also to help play up the importance of the Gallery as a center of American art. Consequently, on June 15, 1967, ten years after the inception of the initial docent program, the Education Department began with Roger Selby as Curator of Education. The records cover all aspects of the Education Department's operation and administration and include: docent notebooks and training material; intern notebooks and training material; proposals to create an education department; standard operating procedures; budgets; grant proposals and funds; correspondence; activities notebooks; resource notebooks; school workshops; public liaison committee; school tours program; lesson plans and notes for school tours; programs offered; exhibition labels and research materials; film lists; lectures and lecture possibilities; publicity; and bibliographic material.

Historical narrative

The first section of this history, covering events through 1981, was prepared by Corcoran Archivist Katherine M. Kovocs for publication in 1985 with the support of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

In 1955 a small group of volunteer women began guiding tours through the Corcoran Gallery of Art. This initial docent program was successful but could not be adequately administered by the Curator whose other Gallery responsibilities were equally demanding. It became obvious to the Women's Committee that the existing tour program could only be met by the establishment of a permanent office with a full-time staff. The Women's Committee argued and generously supported the view that the Corcoran needed an Education department, not only to administer the docent program but also to help play up the importance of the Gallery as a center of American art. Consequently, on June 15, 1967, ten years after the inception of the initial docent program, the Education Department began with Roger Selby as Curator of Education.

The major tasks of the Education Department at its inception were many. An important step was to overhaul the docent program -- to review scheduling procedures, to determine the number of docents the Corcoran needed, to outline the requirements necessary for docentry, and initiate formal and informal docent training in order to ensure quality performances. As well as being responsible for docent selection, training, assignments, and discharge, the Education Department was responsible for the selection, organization, and content of the tours conducted by the docents. With this end in mind, Roger Selby, the first curator, began to build a slide collection to use in docent training and in the Art History courses which he was first the teach in the Corcoran School of Art. Another important task of the Education Department was to explore new developments in education via consulting with educators and institutions and to represent the Corcoran Gallery of Art as an educational advisor. To this end, the Women's Committee with a generous donation from Mrs. John A. Logan, and in conjunction with the Education Department, created the Children's Gallery in 1966.

Established in Gallery 50, the Children's Gallery - filled with tables and chairs - served as a display area as well as a workshop. Through the Children's Gallery, the Education Department offered a series of correlated exhibitions related to school curricula which were supplemented by the use of films, demonstrations, participation and lectures; a series of workroom sessions for different age groups giving opportunities to paint, model, make prints, weave, make pottery and explore all other crafts; a series of special events designed to take advantage of transient opportunities to enliven and expand the regular program. Though the Children's Gallery itself was phased out, the Corcoran Education Department maintained a viable and lively workshop designed to complement the curricula of the D.C. area public/private schools. The Education Department also offered the extension of various services to the educational community from the Gallery resources. For instance, the setting-up and circulating of prefabricated small exhibitions to schools and the maintenance and circulation of good quality reproductions to be available on long-term loans to decorate school assembly halls and classrooms on a yearly or half-yearly basis.

A further task of the Education Department was community outreach. The Special Education project first started as an adjunct to the Education Department in 1968, and had the task of formulating and implementing an intensive, comprehensive community outreach program for the Corcoran Gallery of Art. In 1969, a new department, under the curator of education, was formed extending full recognition to the first year of experimental programming. Special Education organized specialty outreach workshops on painting, drawing, sculpture, graphics, design, photography, film-making, and creative puppetry. The Special Program department worked with settlement houses, community centers, Capital Headstart, National Capital Housing Authority, National Parks Service, Minimum Security Detention Center at Lorton, Va., Neighborhood Youth Corps, and Workshops for Careers in the Arts.

To enhance the Corcoran's public image, the Education Department inaugurated various Wednesday Gallery talks and initiated the first European Art Seminars, and tours for members.

The Education Department always sought ways in which to involve the public as participants rather than just onlookers in their visits to the Corcoran Gallery. In planning programs that would introduce processes of art, as well as art history, the department hoped to encourage awareness of the activity of creating and the thought involved in art creation. The Education Department endeavored to present an appropriate introduction to the Gallery for each age level, a unique visual experience that engages the viewer and one that would encourage him to return, and the development of the Gallery as a resource of original art works and the means to use that resource.

The following section of this history was prepared in 2019 by George Washington University SCRC staff with the support of the Luce Foundation.

For a time the Education Department was responsible for both the Annual Report and graphics for the Gallery, but was eventually able to pass those jobs to other more appropriate departments. Responsibility for graphics, in particular, was handed over to the Public Relations department.

During the 1980s the Education Department began to focus more heavily on programming connected to special and temporary exhibitions. These programs and events related to the themes of the exhibition and included evening lecture series, children’s craft programs, and programs aimed at teachers and educators.

The Education Department created a sister group to the Corcoran Docents in 1983 by adding a corps of individuals from the Junior League of the District of Columbia who staffed the museum’s information desk. They also gave weekend introductory tours about the museum’s permanent collection and collected a written comment and complaint log to assist with visitor feedback. The Department was also responsible for several branches of the Corcoran’s internship program, including undergraduate, graduate, and high school level opportunities

In 1988, the Education Department launched “We the People”, which consisted of three American art and art history programs with a focus on inclusive and diverse stories. These programs included sections on portraiture, landscape painting, and still life, and brought a variety of teaching aids that included art reproductions, color slides, and classroom materials into D.C. area schools. Expansion of the program in 1990 added in-school visits, museum tours, and art-making studios. This program reached over 27,000 students annually.

During this time, the department’s adult education programs moved from Wednesday to Thursday, and came to include Art & Co, a lecture and film series for the city’s working community.

The Education Department also worked for several years on generating informative in-gallery labels for the permanent collection as part of the gallery’s push in the late 1990s and early 2000s to become an intellectually accessible museum.

Throughout the 2000s, the department continued to create evening programs as well as educational materials tied to specific exhibitions. At this time, the department also began to integrate in-school materials with exhibition-specific programing, creating educational materials that teachers could continue to use after the trip to the Gallery. This initiative expanded into a summer Teachers Institute.

The department ended its functionality when the Gallery was partitioned in 2014, although a Continuing Education department does still exist as part of the Corcoran School of the Art and Design, focusing on non-credit art and design courses for adults of all ages.

Arrangement

Organized into 21 series [Note series 1-13 were processed in 1984 and series 14-21 were processed in 2016]: Administration, Finances, Correspondence, Docents, Interns, Activities notebook, Schools, Programs, Exhibitions, Films, Lectures, Publicity, Miscellaneous, Administration files, Admissions files, Audio visual content, Events, Exhibitions, Grants, Programs, and Tours, interns, publicity files

Physical Location

Materials are stored off-site, and will require additional retrieval time. Please contact the Special Collections Research Center for more information.

Custodial History

The records of the Education Department were transferred to the Corcoran Archives from storage beginning in January 1980, and intermittently since then, directly from the Education Department.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The Corcoran Institution Board of Trustees donated these records to The George Washington University in 2016.

Separated Materials

The following records were discarded: various unrelated correspondence, duplicate correspondence (Xerox & carbon), interdepartmental memos, time sheets, budget work sheets, outdated mailing lists, addresses and directories, old program information requests, tour requests, reservations and schedules, school calendars and docent training and tour schedules. During the processing the following records were removed to another location: -Photographs to Archive audio-visual records -Catalogs to Curatorial publications -News clippings to Artists vertical files and history clipping files -News releases to P.R. press release series

Processing Information

Series 1-13 processed by Sandra C. Emmerson, October 1984.
Processing Information In 1984 the processing of the records resulted in the materials that comprise series 1 - 13. In 2016 a second processing project to capture folder titles was undertaken for the remaining unprocessed content which in this record group comprises series 14-21. At this time no attempt has been made to integrate these two portions of the record group.
Title
Preliminary guide to the Corcoran Gallery of Art and Corcoran College of Art + Design,Corcoran Gallery of Art education department records1961-1973
Status
partially_processed
Author
Special Collections Research Center, The George Washington University
Description rules
dacs
Language of description
Finding aid written in English

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Research Center, The George Washington University Repository

Contact:
2130 H Street NW
Washington 20052 United States of America