Joining a trend toward major expansions, the Frick Collection , known for its intimate, jewel-box galleries, will announce on Tuesday plans for a new six-story wing that will increase its exhibition space, open private upstairs rooms, and offer views of Central Park from a new roof garden on East 70th Street.
With its proposal, the Frick joins a roster of museums across the country that are enlarging, a sign perhaps of increased competition for the cultural spotlight, as well as a rebound in fund-raising since the dark days of the economic downturn.
In New York, the Museum of Modern Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art are planning new wings, and the Whitney Museum of American Art is nearing completion on an entirely new building.
The Los Angeles County Museum of Art is planning a new $500 million home on Wilshire Boulevard; the new $131 million Miami Art Museum (now called the Pérez Art Museum Miami) opened in December; the Cleveland Museum of Art just completed its eight-year, $350 million expansion and renovation; and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington has a $100 million expansion in the works.
Critics of other expansions — like MoMA’s — have called them unnecessary, too expensive or even hubristic. As the Frick rolls out its plans, it could face opposition for altering one of New York’s beloved historic buildings, a late Gilded Age mansion designed by Thomas Hastings for the industrialist Henry Clay Frick, where visitors can view a world-class assemblage of old master paintings, European sculpture and decorative arts.
“We and our public revere the authenticity, the intimacy of the space,” said Ian Wardropper, the museum’s director. “So this is a responsibility we take very seriously.”
The Frick’s plan has yet to be presented to its neighbors. Mr. Wardropper said the Frick “will be responsive to their concerns and transparent about the process.”
The project — which would increase space by nearly a third — will also require the approval of city landmark officials because it entails adding to the mansion, and is likely to draw scrutiny from some neighbors who live on the quiet residential blocks surrounding it.
The Whitney Museum of American Art, just five blocks away, fought for more than a year with Upper East Side residents and preservationists over building a nine-story tower behind a row of brownstones in a designated historic district and ultimately decided to move to another site altogether.
The Frick’s current spaces are too small to accommodate the crowds that have come for exhibitions, officials said, like last year’s paintings from the Royal Picture Gallery Mauritshuis in The Hague, which featured Vermeer’s “Girl With a Pearl Earring” and Fabritius’s “The Goldfinch.”
Continue reading in The New York Times