The Frick Collection in New York
The Frick Collection in New York is a small art museum situated on the Upper East Side. Compared to museum giants such as the Guggenheim and the MET, it is quite small. However, what it lacks in size, it more than makes up for in grandeur. This museum’s collection, in addition to the building in which it is housed, are nothing short of splendid. Definitely worth a visit.
The Mansion, the Museum and its Founder, Henry Clay Frick
The Frick Collection, housed in the striking stately mansion belonging to the museums founder, the late Henry Clay Frick (1849-1919). Mr Frick, a successful businessman from a modest background accumulated his fortune in Pittsburgh’s iron and steel industry. He was, however, a somewhat controversial figure. A a lifelong opponent of organised labour and unions his opinions triggered strikes. He was even victim of a failed assassination attempt. During the last 40 years of his life, he became an avid art collector. In 1913 he initiated construction on the magnificent Fifth Avenue mansion, overlooking Central Park.
From the onset of the construction and, as stipulated in his will, Henry Clay Frick made his intention for his mansion and art collection clear. It would be opened to the public as a museum after his and his wife’s deaths. This act of significant generosity, which also included donations to different charities, was a striking contrast to his reputation as an unscrupulous businessman. Since his death, the collection has expanded considerably. The mansion has also undertaken several reconstructions, to accommodate the growing collection. Most noteworthy is that these expansions are so seamless, you can hardly notice that some of the wings don’t belong to the original structure.
What to see in The Frick Collection
The museum houses sixteen permanent galleries and simultaneously often displays several one-off exhibitions. There are some magnificent pieces by some of Europe’s renowned masters. Most noteworthy, Thomas Gainsborough, Sir Joshua Reynolds and William Turner. Sculptures, ceramics, textiles and works on paper are also boasted in the collection. In addition, the museum houses an indoor garden. Here, visitors can relax and marvel at what was formerly a Fifth Avenue driveway.
The museums most special and unique feature is the fact that it is housed in the former Frick residence. Some of the rooms were preserved, exactly as they were at the beginning of the twentieth century. As such, you are transported back in time when you wander around and can experience how the affluent Frick family lived.
Take a couple of hours to explore the museum. Make use of the free audio guide and walk around the house at your own pace. The museum is popular with tourists and New Yorkers alike, so expect it to be busy throughout the day.
- Children under 10 are not permitted to the Frick Collection
- Opening hours:
- Tuesday through Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
- Sunday from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
- Closed on Mondays and public holidays
- Location: 1 East 70th Street