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The Frick Collection art museum is located at the southern end of New York’s famous Museum Mile on the Upper East Side. The villa on Central Park was once the home of Henry Clay Frick (1849-1919), a wealthy industrialist and art collector who, after his death, opened his prestigious residence to the public as a museum.
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I’ll tell you everything you need to know about the Frick Collection in New York in this article!
Good to know: The building will remain under renovation until 2023. During this time, you can see many works of art in the nearby Frick Madison (945 Madison Avenue).
The History of the Frick Collection
The inspiration for the Frick Collection is the collection of the Marquise of Hertford who transformed his residence in London, along with his art collection, into a museum and opened it to the public as the Wallace Collection. Henry Clay Frick looked at this collection in London and became inspired to replicate this idea by turning his estate into a museum after his death. In 1905, the art collector moved to New York to spend his retirement years. Architects Carrère and Hastings were commissioned to build a villa in New York’s Central Park.
At the corner of Fifth Avenue and 70th Street, a luxurious villa was built for Henry Clay Frick and his wife Adelaide in 1913/1914 at a cost of $5,000,000. When Frick died in 1919, the residence went into a trust in accordance with his wishes. However, his wife continued to live in the villa.
It was not until after her death in 1931 that some renovations began to prepare the building for museum use. Additional exhibition rooms, an atrium, and a concert hall were added. In 1935, the Frick Collection finally opened as Frick had wished in his lifetime. To ensure the upkeep of the collection, Frick had left an additional $15,000,000. This money also allowed for additional purchases of artworks for the collection, which was also Frick’s wish.
The Frick Collection Artworks and Exhibitions
In addition to the 131 paintings acquired by Frick, 75 more paintings were added over time, which were purchased by the foundation. In 1977, the Frick Collection received two additional exhibition rooms for temporary exhibitions and now displays more than 1,100 works of art in 16 impressive gallery spaces.
The collection consists primarily of works spanning from the Renaissance through the late 19th century. The 131 works in Frick’s original collection are not allowed to leave the museum at his request. There are regular temporary exhibitions and classical concerts held in Frick’s former estate.
In 2001, an exhibition of impressive sculptures and porcelains was added, for which part of the building was glazed.
A Role Model for Many Other Art Collectors
The Frick Collection is a model for many art collectors in the United States. Inspired by Frick, many art collectors are now thinking about what would happen to their collection after death and considering donating it to a museum. The Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth, Texas, is considered the largest example. However, Andrew Mellon also donated his art collection and used it to finance the construction of the National Art Gallery in Washington, D.C.
The Frick Collection Café
A beautiful ambience awaits you at the Frick Collection Café, also called “Museum Café.” It offers both indoor and outdoor seating.
Shopping in the Villa
Of course, there is also a museum gift shop in the Frick Collection. Poster prints of the artworks, fun mementos of the Frick Collection, bags, watches, or just a postcard for art-loving friends? Everything is very beautifully presented and really fun to look at, making picking out a souvenir from this unique museum an activity to look forward to.
Tickets for the Frick Collection in New York
You can buy tickets directly at the museum or on the official website.
How much time should I plan for a visit?
The visit to the museum starts with a 12-minute film about Henry Clay Frick’s life, his collection, and his intention to preserve his mansion. In total, you will not need more than 3 hours to see everything at the Frick Collection.
Is the Frick Collection suitable for children?
Due to the fact that the museum is located in Frick’s former private quarters, the furniture and carpets from his time have been preserved in the rooms. As a result, children under the age of 10 are not allowed in the museum. Children under the age of 16 may enter the museum but only under the supervision of a parent or guardian.
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