Corcoran Gallery of Art and Corcoran College of Art + Design, Corcoran Gallery of Art public relations and graphics records
Scope and Contents
The Public Relations records show the activities of the Gallery's Public Relations Office in publicizing and promoting the activities of the Gallery. The most helpful records for researchers include the press clippings scrapbooks (these should be used in conjunction with the Special Exhibitions Scrapbooks Record Group 5, Series 7 and the history clipping file). This should not be considered an exhaustive account of the Corcoran’s appearance in print because for most years the Gallery did not subscribe to a clipping service. In addition the PR exhibition files should be used in conjunction with the Curatorial exhibition files to learn the extent of media and press interest in a particular exhibition. The Press Releases in Series 5 give succinct descriptions of exhibitions and events and are especially helpful when only a short explanation of a particular event or exhibition is needed. Perusal of the press release series will also give the researcher an overall impression the kinds of activities during a particular time period.
- circa 1942-2009
Conditions Governing Access
This collection is open to research.
When conducting research within The Corcoran Archives collections, please 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.
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.
Although the Corcoran had no formal public relations office until 1961 the large number of clipping scrapbooks bear witness to the interest of the press in Corcoran activities. Prior to 1961 most publicity efforts were directed by the Director’s Office or the Curatorial Office. With the expansion of the Gallery’s outreach activities in the early 1960s Mrs. Inga Wall Heck joined the Gallery’s staff and established, along with her other responsibilities, the first professional public relations office at the Corcoran.
The office sends out press releases on exhibitions, special events and Gallery and School activities, and works with the press and broadcast media in the promotion of Gallery activities. In 1978 the Board of Trustees established a Public Relations Committee with J. Burke Wilkinson as Chairman. This Committee lends the help, advice and prestige of the Board of Trustees to the Gallery’s public relations activities. In 1981, the Trustees formed a Public Relations Advisory Committee made up of individuals involved in the media and the community to help increase attendance at the Treasures of Ancient Nigeria, P.H. Polk, and Black Folk Art in America exhibition. Because of their efforts and those of the Public Relations staff, attendance was spectacular for these exhibitions. In 1979, the promotion of the Daumier in Retrospect, 1808-1879 exhibition received several media awards.
The following section of this history was prepared in 2019 by George Washington University SCRC staff with the support of the Luce Foundation.
The Department expanded its responsibilities in the 1980s, partially taking over graphic design from the Education Department. This lead the office to take a more active role in directly creating content to be provided to outlets for promotion of the Gallery and School. They also took on greater involvement in creation of in-gallery promotional content, advertising campaigns, and general advertising materials.
The office took on management of the Gallery’s web presence in the 1990s. The original website is still available to view, as well as archived versions on the Internet Archive Wayback Machine.
In the 2000s, the office turned its attention towards creating a consistent style guide for the Gallery. This included color, font, sizing and branding consistency for the Gallery, the school, and all outreach and advertising materials.
241.5 Linear Feet
Language of Materials
Although the Corcoran had no formal public relations office until 1961 the large number of clipping scrapbooks bear witness to the interest of the press in Corcoran activities. Prior to 1961 most publicity efforts were directed by the Director’s Office or the Curatorial Office. The Public Relations records show the activities of the Gallery's Public Relations Office in publicizing and promoting the activities of the Gallery. The most helpful records for researchers include the press clippings scrapbooks (these should be used in conjunction with the Special Exhibitions Scrapbooks).
Organized into 14 series: Exhibition files [legacy series]; Exhibition files; Event files [legacy series]; Event files; Administrative records [legacy series]; Administrative records; Budget records [legacy series]; Press releases [legacy series]; Press and publicity; Clipping scrapbooks [legacy series]; Audio visual materials; Design records; Graphics; and Suzan Reed Weaver publication files.
Materials are stored off-site, and will require additional retrieval time. Please contact the Special Collections Research Center for more information.
The Public Relations (PR) Records of the Corcoran Gallery of Art were transferred to the Archives from the PR Office and various storage areas from 1980 to 2016.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
The Corcoran Institution Board of Trustees donated these records to The George Washington University in 2016.
During processing in 1984 the following materials were removed from the PR records and placed in more appropriate locations:
Photographs moved to Archives Audio-Visual Records Newspaper clippings moved to Artist vertical files or history clipping files Announcements/Invitations moved to Special Events ephemera Exhibition catalogs (Corcoran) moved to Curatorial Publications Exhibition catalogs (non-Corcoran) moved to School Library
Series 1-6 were processed by Corcoran Archivist K. Kovacs in September 1984. Series 7-13 were processed in 2016 by GW Special Collections. Series 14 was processed in 2019 during the Luce grant project for the Corcoran Archives. Series numbering and titles from 1984 were retained, and the label “[legacy series]” indicates an original series that now has a corresponding later series with the same title. For ease of browsing, corresponding legacy and new series have been re-ordered to be adjacent in the collection display.
- Guide to the Corcoran Gallery of Art and Corcoran College of Art + Design, Corcoran Gallery of Art public relations and graphics records circa 1942-2009
- Special Collections Research Center, The George Washington University
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Language of description note
- Finding aid written in English
Part of the Special Collections Research Center, The George Washington University Repository
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Washington 20052 United States of America