Q: What does the project encompass?
Designed by Selldorf Architects in close collaboration with the Frick, the project will open 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 building’s main floor, will increase the museum’s display space by 30%.
The project creates a dedicated, purpose-built education center, the first in the Frick’s history, and a state-of-the-art auditorium that will offer a sense of intimacy through its rounded form and curved raked seating plan, better accommodating education and public programs.
The plan creates new amenities and enhancements to facilitate ADA accessibility and visitor circulation throughout the Frick.
It will also provide modern back-of-house facilities, including new conservation studios to treat the collections of the museum and library.
Q: Why does the Frick need to renovate and expand?
The Frick has not undergone a comprehensive renovation in eighty-five years, although its collections, attendance, and public programs have grown significantly over the past decades. Many of the Frick’s critical functions—from the presentation, care, and conservation of its collections to education programs and basic visitor services—are constrained and have been retrofitted into spaces in the former residence and adjacent library building.
Q: Is it true that the public will finally gain access to the second floor?
Yes! This plan gives the public access to more of the former Frick residence than ever before by opening a series of rooms on the second floor as permanent exhibition galleries. These rooms were once used as the private living quarters of the Frick family but were converted into administrative offices when the house was transformed into a museum in 1935. More intimate than the grand galleries of the main floor, these second-floor spaces are particularly well suited for the display of the Frick’s collection of smaller-scale decorative arts, sculpture, drawings, and cabinet pictures, many of which are rarely displayed.
Q: Will the main-floor galleries change?
No. Visitors will continue to enjoy the main-floor galleries as they have been experienced for decades.
Q: What is happening to the Music Room?
Our design plan reconfigures the Music Room into a new special exhibition gallery space that will enable the Frick to present exhibitions in dialogue with its permanent collection, a critical part of our mission, without having to de-install the permanent collection galleries.
The Frick’s public programs, including our concert series, lectures, and symposia, will be presented in a new purpose-built auditorium better suited for both music and spoken word. Located in below-ground spaces that are being revitalized and transformed, the new 220-seat auditorium will offer improved sound quality and increased capacity to meet demand, while maintaining a level of intimacy that is integral to the Frick experience.
Q: Where are you finding space for the new facilities?
A central aspect of Selldorf Architects’ design is to recapture existing space in order to minimize new construction. We are repurposing nearly 60,000 square feet as part of this project, transforming basement and administrative spaces, as well as the service yard behind the library, into areas for education, exhibitions, and programming. This includes the creation of a public passageway that unites the Frick’s collection and library for the first time, as well as a purpose-built auditorium that will be created in large part by transforming existing basement spaces.
Q. Are there deferred-maintenance issues with the Frick buildings?
Yes. The renovation and expansion project, which involves a closure of our buildings, offers an opportunity to perform important upgrades to the aging infrastructure. Doing so in parallel with the project will safeguard the collection and buildings, improve energy efficiency, and ensure the institution’s long-term sustainability.
Q: How does the plan affect the 70th Street Garden?
The Frick will restore the 70th Street Garden in keeping with Russell Page’s original design intent, an aspect of the project led by preservation architects Beyer Blinder Belle, who are working with public garden designer Lynden B. Miller and landscape architects MPFP. Furthermore, as many of the new and renovated spaces on 70th Street overlook the garden, the project offers new prospects from which to enjoy it.
Q: When is the project likely to begin?
The Frick is planning to break ground early in 2021, with pre-construction preparations beginning in the fall of 2020.
Q: I’ve heard that the Frick will be moving into the Breuer building on Madison Avenue during the course of the project. Do you have an update?
To ensure continued public access to its art and library holdings during the project period, the Frick will temporarily relocate its operations—within the same neighborhood—to the former location of the Whitney Museum of American Art on Madison Avenue, which, until recently, has been being operated by The Metropolitan Museum of Art as The Met Breuer. Programming at Frick Madison will focus on installations of masterworks from the permanent collection.
Q: Will programming for members continue during the construction period?
Members will have access to our permanent collection throughout our residency at Frick Madison, and programs will continue, both in person (as public health and safety allows) and online. Individuals who maintain an uninterrupted membership throughout the construction phase will gain the special designation of Frick Future Member, which carries additional benefits, including priority access to Frick Madison and an exclusive invitation to celebrate the reopening of 1 East 70th Street.
Q: How is community feedback a part of your process? How can I learn more?
Our project has benefitted from a productive dialogue with the public, including our neighbors, civic and other community groups, as well as our peers in the museum world. Dialogue has been facilitated through many means, including open-house presentations and meetings with community groups. This website is regularly updated with news on the project, and comments and questions can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.