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Madison Avenue Business Improvement District
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New York, New York 10065
Madison Avenue Site Will Become the Temporary Home of Frick’s Collections, Library, and Programs
Frick to Begin Renovation and Enhancement of Its Historic Buildings This Winter
New York (July 20, 2020) The Frick Collection announced today that it will reopen to the public in early 2021 in the former site of the Whitney Museum of American Art at 945 Madison Avenue. The temporary location, called Frick Madison, will house the Frick’s collections, programs, and staff during the renovation and expansion of its historic buildings at 1 East 70th Street. Following a rigorous public review of the design by Selldorf Architects, the Frick is planning to break ground early in 2021, with pre-construction preparations beginning this fall. The project marks the institution’s first comprehensive renovation in eighty-five years. It will create new gallery spaces for the display of the permanent collection and special exhibitions; make more of the original residence accessible to the public; improve education, library, and conservation resources; and upgrade visitor amenities and accessibility throughout the museum and library.
From early 2021 through 2022, Frick Madison will present an installation of collection highlights organized for the first time chronologically and geographically. The presentation of paintings, sculptures, and decorative arts is overseen by Xavier F. Salomon, the Frick’s Deputy Director and Peter Jay Sharp Chief Curator, in conjunction with Curator Aimee Ng. Installed in the iconic modernist Marcel Breuer building, the presentation will focus on masterworks in the permanent collection, inviting new perspectives while still offering the intimate experience for which the Frick is known. Frick Madison will also include a reading room with resources of the Frick Art Reference Library available to researchers as well as the general public.
“As we continue to navigate these challenging and unprecedented times, we are thrilled to move forward with our long-planned renovation, which is critical to ensure the ongoing vitality of the institution, one of New York’s most cherished cultural treasures,” said Ian Wardropper, Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Director of the Frick. “It is immensely gratifying to be able to provide the opportunity for the public to experience our museum and library collections during a period when they otherwise would not be accessible due to construction. We hope that Frick Madison will spark new insights and ideas inspired by the installation of our holdings in another distinguished but very different setting.”
Added Elizabeth Eveillard, Chair of the Frick’s Board of Trustees, “We are pleased to embark on our measured renovation, knowing that the Frick’s legacy will be preserved for the next generation of visitors. We remain grateful for all the support and public input we received along the way.”
Peter Blanchard III, a descendant of founder Henry Clay Frick and a Trustee of the institution, noted, “I believe my great-grandfather would be enormously proud of how the museum and library have evolved over time and the worldwide esteem in which the Frick is held. This next phase for the Frick is an important milestone in the institution’s history. At its heart lies a commitment to the ‘Frick Experience’—the chance to intimately engage with incredible works of art.”
Further details about the exhibition program at Frick Madison will be announced in the coming months, along with information about education and public programs, Frick Art Reference Library resources, and extended membership benefits. In the meantime, the Frick recently launched a guide on the free Bloomberg Connects app. Audiences may explore the museum and library from the comfort of their own homes or use it on-site next year at Frick Madison. It is available for both iOS and Android via the Apple App and Google Play Stores.
Frick Madison is being realized through a collaboration between the Frick, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and The Metropolitan Museum of Art (which, until recently, operated the Met Breuer at this site).
About the Frick’s Renovation and Enhancement Project
Honoring the architectural legacy and unique character of The Frick Collection, the plan designed by Selldorf Architects will provide unprecedented access to the original 1914 home of Henry Clay Frick while preserving the intimate visitor experience and beloved galleries for which the Frick is known. Conceived to address pressing institutional and programmatic needs, the plan will create critical new spaces for permanent collection display and special exhibitions, conservation, education, and public programs, while upgrading visitor amenities and overall accessibility throughout the Frick’s historic buildings.
The Selldorf design plan—to be executed by Beyer Blinder Belle, Preservation and Executive Architect—encompasses approximately 60,000 square feet of repurposed space and a net gain of 18,000 square feet of new construction above and below grade. Highlights include:
Opening to the public for the first time a series of rooms on the second floor of the original residence for use as permanent collection galleries. These spaces, together with a new special exhibition area on the museum’s main floor, will increase the museum’s display space by 30%.
This creation of a dedicated, purpose-built education center, the first in the Frick’s history, and a state-of-the-art auditorium that will better accommodate frequently sold-out programs, while offering a sense of intimacy through its rounded form and curved, raked seating plan.
Modernized back-of-house facilities, including new conservation studios to treat the museum’s and library’s collections.
New amenities and enhancements to facilitate ADA accessibility and visitor circulation throughout the Frick.
At the same time, the Frick will restore the 70th Street Garden and perform important upgrades to the buildings’ aging infrastructure in order to safeguard the collection, improve energy efficiency, and ensure the institution’s long-term sustainability.
The project was approved by the Landmarks Preservation Commission in July 2018 and by the New York City Board of Standards and Appeals in March 2020.
About The Frick Collection (Please note: the museum and library are currently closed.)
Housed in one of New York’s last great Gilded Age homes, The Frick Collection provides visitors with an unparalleled opportunity for intimate encounters with one of the world’s foremost collections of European fine and decorative arts. The house and collection originated with Henry Clay Frick (1849–1919), who bequeathed his home and collection of paintings, sculpture, and decorative arts for the enjoyment of the public. Among the artists Frick collected were Bellini, Holbein, Houdon, Fragonard, Manet, Renoir, Rembrandt, Titian, Turner, Velázquez, Vermeer, and Whistler. The institution’s holdings, which encompass masterworks from the Renaissance through the early modern period, have grown over the decades, more than doubling in size since the opening of the museum in 1935. Among these complementary acquisitions are many public favorites, including works by Constable, Duccio, Gainsborough, Houdon, Ingres, Memling, Monet, Rembrandt, and Piero. Adjacent to the museum is the Frick Art Reference Library, founded nearly one hundred years ago by Henry Clay Frick’s daughter Helen Clay Frick and recognized as one of the top resources of its kind in the world.