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The Frick Madison.
The Frick Madison.

Frick Collection Details Plans for Two-Year Stay in Former Met Breuer

The elaborately framed old masters that have hung for nearly a century in the elegant Gilded Age Fifth Avenue mansion that houses New York’s Frick Collection will find themselves in starker surroundings as the Frick moves its trove to the Brutalist structure recently vacated by the Met Breuer. The move is to take place early in 2021, as a controversial two-year $160 million renovation and expansions of the former home of industrialist Henry Frick Clay commences.

To accommodate its new digs, which it is renting from the building’s owner and earlier long-term tenant the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Frick has had to rethink its galleries. “I started thinking about the Breuer as a masterpiece in itself,” explained Frick deputy director and chief curator Xavier F. Salomon.

In their traditional domestic setting, works from various countries and time periods were intermingled throughout the spacious rooms of Frick’s 1914 mansion. Works at the Frick Madison, as the museum has named its temporary abode, will be organized by region across three floors of the 1966 building, with each floor showing works from a different area of Europe displayed in chronological order, from the earliest to the most recent. One element of exhibition that will be retained at the Frick Madison is the lack of display cases, labels, or text; the absence is meant to foster a more intimate experience of the objects on view.

The Frick has taken advantage of its new surroundings to present for the first time all fourteen works in Fragonard’s “Progress of Love” series as well as two sixteenth-century Mughal carpets that had previously been in storage. The institution is also hoping that the change of venue will attract new, younger visitors to the collection, and offer longtime fans a chance to discover new treasures.

“I hope it’s going to be a chance for people who know the Frick well to be able to say, ‘Oh, I never noticed that before,’” said Salomon.

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