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Frick's Expansion Plan Includes Opening Mansion's 2nd Floor to Public

By Shaye Weaver | March 28, 2016 11:04am
 The Frick Museum is planning on unveiling rooms that have been hidden to the public since it opened in 1935 in its newest expansion plan, according to museum officials.
The Frick Expansion
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UPPER EAST SIDE — The Frick Museum has unveiled a new expansion plan that will open never-before-seen private suites of the Frick family to the public.

The plan was announced on Friday, one year after its board pulled the plug on an original expansion plan amid public outcry. The first plan called for a six-story addition and the removal of a gated garden.

The new plan scraps the addition, keeps the garden and opens existing spaces within the museum's building on East 70th Street near Fifth Avenue. It includes a suite of private rooms on the second floor that was used by the Frick family and had previously been closed to the public, according to a museum spokeswoman.

The rooms were converted to offices in the 1930s, but when they reopen to the public, visitors will see their original, Gilded Age architectural features as they peruse sculptures, decorative art pieces, drawings and pictures from the Frick's permanent collection. Many of the pieces that will be shown have not been on view because of space limitations, museum officials said.

Visitors will get to go into the former bedroom of Mrs. Henry Clay Frick, as well as walk up a marble staircase that has been cordoned off by a velvet rope since 1935.

A 360-degree virtual tour of the area can be taken on the Frick's website.

The museum's 1935 music room area may also be converted to a new gallery for special exhibitions, helping the Frick show more of its permanent collection throughout the year, museum officials said.

The Frick wants to create more space for educational and public programming, reconfigure and simplify how visitors circulate through the museum and the Frick Art Reference Library, and create state-of-the-art conservation spaces for the museum's art and research collections.

Once the museum's board selects an architectural firm later this year, details like square footage and project cost, as well as renderings of the new spaces, will be unveiled, according to museum officials.

The plans will ultimately need approval by the Landmarks Preservation Commission, since it is a landmark building constructed in 1914 for steel industrialist Henry Clay Frick and his family.

It has been a library and museum, featuring works by Goya, Monet, Rembrandt, Renoir and Vermeer, among others, for almost 80 years.

Since it was built, the Frick has undergone several renovations and expansions to make room for its growing collection, but it has not undergone a significant upgrade since the 1970s.

"We enter the next phase of our expansion process energized by the promise of an enhanced facility that will address the Frick’s urgent programmatic and museological needs, while ensuring that the institution will continue to do what it does best — provide intimate encounters with exceptional artworks in spaces designed for tranquil contemplation,” said Ian Wardropper, director of the Frick Collection.

“We look forward to developing a design that advances these goals and reflects our passion for preserving the unique character and qualities that define the Frick experience.”