Terrie Sultan is Curator of Contemporary Art.
A tiny tour through one of the country's first and best collections of American art.
The Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington's oldest and largest private art museum, is recognized nationally and internationally for its outstanding collection of American art. Its founder, William Wilson Corcoran, was among the first American collectors to appreciate contemporary art of his country, at a time when most of his peers favored European works. His important collection of mainly American paintings and sculpture formed the nucleus of the art museum he founded in 1869.
Over its 130-year history, the Corcoran's collection of American art has grown dramatically through purchases and generous gifts. Today the Corcoran's holdings total over 14,000 objects dating from the 16th century B.C. to the present, including a world-renowned core collection of 19th-century American paintings, sculpture, prints, drawings, and photographs. The collections of 18th- and 20th-century American painting, sculpture, and works on paper are augmented by a highly regarded collection of modern and contemporary photographs and media arts.