The Frick Collection announces a major expansion

The museum will be building a six-story, 60,000-square-foot addition, complete with outdoor roof garden

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A rendering of the planned Frick Collection expansion

A rendering of the planned Frick Collection expansion Illustration: Courtesy of Neoscape


Museum expansions have been much in the news lately, what with the Whitney’s MePa home nearing completion, and MoMA pressing forward with the demolition of the American Folk Art building to make way for a new wing. Then there’s the Met’s soon-to-open outdoor plaza, named for everyone’s favorite Dr. Evil plutocrat, David H. Koch. And speaking of Gilded Age robber barons, uptown along Fifth Avenue, at the 1914 Beaux Arts mansion built by steel magnate Henry Clay Frick (the one housing his eponymous collection), things are about to get supersized. The museum just announced plans to build a major addition to its existing home, effectively increasing its size by a third. It will be designed by Davis Brody Bond, the folks behind the National September 11 Memorial Museum.

According to museum officials, the extra space is needed because of growing crowds clamoring to see such exhibitions as last year’s blockbuster showcase of masterpieces from Royal Picture Gallery Mauritshuis in the Hague, Holland, which included Vermeer’s iconic Girl with a Pearl Earring. And as anyone who’s stood in line during the Frick's pay-what-you-wish day can attest, it can be a long wait to get in.

More problematic, however, is just what the neighbors will think. Getting anything built in New York is an enormous pain in the ass, but the Upper East Side is notoriously stingy with its approval for new capital projects in the area. The local community board fought the Whitney to a standstill on more than one occasion over expansion plans at its Madison Avenue location—one of the reasons why the institution decided to head downtown to friendlier environs by the High Line.

So it remains to be seen if the Frick gets its wish. In the meantime, you can stand in line there and dream of shorter waits.


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