The Frick Collection Announces Plans to Enhance and Renovate Museum and Library

The Frick Collection Announces Plans to Enhance and Renovate Museum and Library

The Frick Collection today unveiled a plan to enhance and renovate its museum and library to further fulfill founder Henry Clay Frick's long-standing vision to offer public access to its works of art and educational programs. The proposal derives from the Frick's history of architecturally cohesive expansions and alterations. It includes the construction of a new addition in keeping with the scale and design of the original house and the library wing, and the renovation and expansion of interior spaces

added in the 1930s and 1970s. A centerpiece of the new plan will be the opening of the museum's second floor to the public for the first time. The result will preserve the intimate visitor experience in an extraordinary mansion that has delighted art lovers for nearly eight decades. Davis Brody Bond Architects and Planners, the New York-based firm that was responsible for the 2011 award-winning transformation of an exterior loggia into the museum's Portico Gallery, will design the project (above, rendering of enhancements from Fifth Avenue*).

In addition to converting several of the museum's historic second-floor rooms into galleries, the Frick's proposal calls for the construction of an architecturally respectful addition to the East 70th Street side of the museum, consistent with the style, history, and design of the original 1913-14 mansion and previous expansions. The new addition, which will provide the institution with a net gain of 42,000 square feet, will house more gallery space, an expanded entrance hall, additional space for the Frick's world-renowned art reference library, new classrooms, a 220-seat auditorium, expanded administrative space, and updated conservation laboratories, as well as a rooftop garden terrace for museum visitors. The addition will match the heights of the Frick's historic wings, including the three-story original house and the six-story library building constructed in 1935. The project will undergo all necessary public reviews, including that of the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission.

"Since The Frick Collection opened as a museum nearly eighty years ago, we have been guided by Henry Clay Frick's mandate that his home and exquisite collection offer inspiration and enjoyment to the public," said Frick Director Ian Wardropper. "Today, Mr. Frick's wishes continue to guide our Trustees and Administration as we seek to further realize his vision and, at the same time, secure the institution's future through a sensitive plan that is respectful of the museum's tradition and the community."

"To improve service to our audiences, we wish to make an already great institution even better," said Margot Bogert, Chair of the Frick Board of Trustees. "We occupy a structure and property that has evolved numerous times since the passing of Henry Clay Frick in 1919, with each occurrence conceived to better meet the needs of the institution and its public. We are driven by our mission once more with this plan."

"We approach this project with reverence for the 1913-14 Frick mansion and the 1935 additions, including the Frick Art Reference Library," said Carl Krebs, a partner at Davis Brody Bond. "The evolution of the Frick has been marked by a combination of a consistent design vocabulary, high architectural quality, and respectful additions and alterations. Our design speaks to all of these themes."

The project primarily focuses on three areas: expanding gallery space, enhancing educational offerings, and improving the visitor experience.

Expanding Gallery Space

The Frick will open several second-floor rooms to museum visitors for the first time ever, including what were formerly bedrooms, a study, and a breakfast room. This will enable more objects from the permanent collection to be exhibited and will offer visitors a greater sense of how the Frick family lived in the Gilded-Age house. (At right, 2nd floor landing leading to former Frick family bedrooms which will become galleries.)

The plan calls for the construction of an addition that will match the heights of the existing house and library to create more than 42,000 square feet of new space, including an additional exhibition gallery on the museum's first floor. The new gallery will allow the museum to better accommodate popular special exhibitions without having to take works from the permanent collection off public view, as it often does currently.

Enhancing Educational Offerings

The Frick's educational programming will expand with a new education center including two dedicated classrooms and an auditorium capable of accommodating 220 visitors, a 30% capacity increase. The Frick's education programming already serves more than 25,000 adults and children through lectures and symposia, school group visits, and an acclaimed concert series. The new education center will expand the Frick's ability to cultivate these lifelong students of art.

A dedicated study room for visiting scholars and public seminars will be added.

Additional space for the Frick Art Reference Library will be created, as well as barrier-free access between it and the museum's galleries on the ground floor.

Also included will be an enlarged, updated lab where the Frick's world-class conservators will work to preserve the Collection's masterpieces.

Improving the Visitor Experience

The entrance hall will be enlarged to approximately three times its current size, thereby reducing the time visitors wait in line outside the Frick and providing them with a smoother, more comfortable arrival.

Two new elevators and a ramp will be constructed to provide improved barrier-free access.