With the Met, MoMA, and the Whitney all in the midst of expansion, The Frick Collection has joined the club. This Tuesday morning, officials announced plans for a new wing that will increase exhibition space as well as accommodate an expected influx of visitors. The space will add six stories and 42,000 square feet; it will include gallery space, a new entrance hall, classrooms, a 220-seat auditorium, and a rooftop garden terrace. Construction is expected to start in the spring of 2017, with an ambitious date of completion planned around 2020.
If the Frick wants to join the roster of expanding museums, they’ll likely have to take on some of the same critiques. Since April of 2013, MoMA has drawn criticism for a planned new expansion, which requires the demolition of the former home of the American Folk Museum. The Whitney also fought local Upper East Side residents on their plan to build a nine-story tower behind a row of brownstones. If these costly and invasive plans have come under scrutiny in the past, it seems possible that skeptics will have something to say about the Frick’s expansion.
What might the critics say? For starters, Frick’s identity is that of a relic. The building itself is one of New York City’s few remaining Gilded Age mansions and acts as much as a piece of history as the old master paintings and European sculptures occupying its walls. Toying with this will most likely make preservationists grind their teeth. However, officials have stated that the new design by Davis Brody Bond (the firm responsible for the interior of the 9/11 memorial) will be faithful to the vernacular and feel of the original home. In terms of the project’s costliness, officials at the Frick stated that they were not ready to disclose the project’s budget yet. In other words, it won’t be cheap.