In New York, The Frick Collection’s expansion plans are on hold – for now

On Tuesday, a meeting was held at which the future of the small, though world-renowned, art museum, The Frick Collection was discussed.

Museum patrons and neighborhood advocates were joined by architectural enthusiasts at the public hearing of the New York City Landmarks Preservation Committee (LPC). The topic was the controversial future home of the Frick Collection.

The Frick Collection is home to a world class collection of old masters. Highlights include Jean-Honoré Fragonard‘s masterpiece The Progress of Love and three Vermeers. It is based at Henry Clay Frick House on the Upper East Side in Manhattan, New York City. It houses the collection of industrialist and philanthropist Henry Clay Frick (1849–1919).

Comtesse d'Haussonville Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres 1845

Comtesse d’Haussonville,
Ingres, 1845.

Attendees heard from architect Annabelle Selldorf and public testimonials both for and against the planned expansion and renovation. The meeting lasted around four hours. Nonetheless it did not come to a conclusion and the future of the museum remains up in the air.

Frick Collection expansion plans

The inconclusive meeting was, as Artnetnews called it,  “just the latest hitch in the museum’s Sisyphean attempts to modernize”.

The ambitious expansion plans for the Frick Collection involve adding 60,000 square feet of repurposed space together with 27,000 square feet of new building space.

New York’s Selldorf Architects were set to start work in 2020. The construction budget for the project is $160 million.

There was considerable backing from the Frick family for the plans. A letter was read out in support of the project which was signed by four members of the family. In addition, a wide range of support letters were read by or for individuals and groups – one reason the meeting lasted so long.

However, some do not want the changes to go ahead.  One critic was another family member Martha Frick Symington Sanger, a great-granddaughter of Henry Clay Frick and a historian of the collection.  Her objection was to an “ultramodern” cafe and gift shop with glass windows. The latter might subject Frick Collection visitors to scrutiny from passers-by. She was also worried about the designs attracting vermin.

A further public meeting will be held later in the summer.

Photo: Galen Lee, courtesy the Frick Collection.

Click here to read the full article.