The Frick’s special exhibitions highlight subjects that complement the aesthetic and art historical focus of its permanent collection. The museum is particularly well known for presenting shows that focus on subjects and artists not commonly highlighted elsewhere. These presentations, whether focusing on a single object or a larger selection of objects, have been acclaimed for their quality, originality, and intellectual rigor.
Special exhibitions of large-scale works, such as Renoir, Impressionism, and Full-Length Painting (2012), Van Dyck: The Anatomy of Portraiture (2016), and Turner’s Modern and Ancient Ports: Passages through Time (2017) cannot be presented in the basement-level temporary exhibition galleries because of the rooms’ low ceilings. Instead, they have had to be mounted in the larger galleries on the first floor, necessitating the removal of permanent collection objects, such as the beloved full-length portraits by Whistler and Van Dyck.
To alleviate this problem, the Frick plans to create a dedicated special exhibition space on the main level of the museum. Unlike the rooms in the basement, this area will have the added benefit of being located on the same floor as the permanent collection, which ensures the synergy between the Frick holdings and its temporary presentations. The main rectangular room of this space will be similarly proportioned to the adjacent East Gallery, part of the 1935 addition. Two smaller adjoining rooms may be used as needed and can also house introductory material. In between special exhibitions, these gallery spaces can be home to additional works from the Frick’s permanent collection.