Connecting the Museum and the Library

The Frick Art Reference Library is one of the world’s top art reference libraries, serving students, art historians, and art professionals, as well as the general public. The landmarked library is located in a building the equivalent of seven stories in height designed by John Russell Pope, the noted architect responsible for the 1935 transformation of the private Frick residence into a public museum.

A leading site for collecting and provenance study, the library is regarded for its vast holdings of exhibition and auction sale catalogues, photo archive of 1.2 million images, and growing collection of e-books and archived websites. According to WorldCat—the world’s largest library catalogue—an extraordinary 25 percent of the library’s collection cannot be found anywhere else. Currently, 27% of physical materials are housed offsite: these items can be ordered in advance through its online catalogue, FRESCO.

Library use and culture is evolving substantially, and the Frick continues to serve its constituents with groundbreaking initiatives and collaborations.

  • The Frick has been involved in digitization since 1999. Current priorities are the digitization of the photoarchive, unique holdings, and archives.
  • The Frick played a leading role in the establishment of PHAROS, a fourteen-institution international collaboration of photoarchives that aims to make approximately 25 million images available online to the general public.
  • The Frick was a founding member of NYARC, a consortium of collection-sharing art history libraries that also includes the Museum of Modern Art and the Brooklyn Museum.
  • The Frick is a pioneer of digital art history and home to the Digital Art History Lab, which seeks to provide the digital tools and data necessary to explore new methodologies related to the study of art history.
  • The Center for the History of Collecting, a scholarly initiative focused on fostering the study of fine and decorative art collecting practices in the United States and abroad, has passed its ten-year milestone. The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Forbes, and other outlets, have taken notice of the Center’s influence on the field.

The building is currently accessed by museum visitors only by exiting the museum and walking around the block to the library’s entrance on East 71st Street. The plan will, for the first time, create a public passageway between the museum and library that will allow the collective resources of the Frick to be seamlessly experienced by the general public as well as researchers.

The plan also includes a center for visiting scholars, where independent art historians and research fellows can meet, present, and work collaboratively on a range of topics. There will also be devoted space for the Frick’s Digital Art History Lab, in order to better accommodate workshops for students, researchers, and the public on incorporating new technologies in their study of art history

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