Corcoran Taps New Chairman; Board Veteran Eyes Art Gallery's Modernization

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Byline: Patrick Badgley, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

The Corcoran Museum of Art board of trustees will install Otto J. Ruesch as its new chairman at the end of this month.

Mr. Ruesch, a board member since 1994, helped raise more than $60 million for the institution during nearly 10 years. He replaces Ronald D. Abramson, who was elected in 1994 and served four consecutive terms, his fourth ending June 30.

Yesterday, Mr. Ruesch said the board has continually renewed itself to best serve visitors, and that remains a goal for him.

"We are here to serve the artists, but at the same time, we have to make sure that we include every single segment of the city," the Chevy Chase resident said.

The Corcoran Gallery, located at New York Avenue and 17th Street NW, was founded in 1869 as Washington's first art museum and is privately funded. Its collection includes historic and modern American art, as well as European painting, sculpture and decorative arts.

Mr. Ruesch believes it is important for the 134-year-old institution to become a spot to which visitors flock so its finances are strong enough to keep an ever-improving and growing collection.

Another initiative for Mr. Ruesch is completing the 140,000-square-foot Gehry Wing that will house classrooms, galleries, a restaurant, a shop and administrative offices. The gallery has raised $62 million, half of the money needed for the project

The museum offers annual individual memberships for $50, which provide year-round general admission, free or discounted admission to all ticketed exhibitions and several other benefits.

Other membership packages offer more privileges and are higher in price, with the highest costing $1,500. …