Frick Collection
art museum in New York City



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Frick Collection
art museum in New York City
Average: 5 (1 vote)

1 E 70th Street
New York, New York
United States

More about Frick Collection

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Ruthless businessman, Andrew Carnegie, shows his soft spot for the arts.

One of the best small art museums in the U.S. If current expansion plans go through it will soon be one of the best medium-sized museums. Big, medium, or small, reviews seem unanimous that the Frick Collection is just right and a must for European art fans in a city with a fiercely competitive art scene.

Located on the former site of the Lennox Library, which housed the first Gutenberg Bible to reach the colonies. Henry Clay Frick tore down the library in 1912 after its collection was moved and incorporated with the Astor Library; thus beginning the famous New York Public Library. Frick didn’t hate libraries; in fact, architect Thomas Hastings who designed the Frick House would also design the New York Public Library. He did, however, hate ex-business partner Andrew Carnegie. Rumors abound that he selected the property because of its proximity to Carnegie’s mansion. It is unclear whether he intended to outshine Carnegie by building the grandest house on the block, or the property was simply the only lot available, but a literal flood of bad blood between the men suggests the former.

Frick was the grandson of Abraham Overholt, the owner of my recommended budget rye for Manhattans, Old Overholt Whiskey. With a keen business instinct and little formal education, Frick managed to buy up a bunch of coal mines to create coke (not that kind of coke) for steel manufacturing. He quickly gained control of the Pittsburgh coke industry and by his mid-thirties was chairman to the largest coke manufacturing plant in the world and a millionaire in partnership with Carnegie. Their friendship ended when Frick went off the deep end. Just before Carnegie’s death Frick was reported to have said, "I will see [Carnegie] in hell, where we are both going." Frick died of a heart attack in 1919 which is linked through unsubstantiated reports to syphilis.

Despite a reputation for greed, he did donate a lot of land, money, his art, and his house to the people. The museum gives a glimpse of this generous man behind the business; a man with good taste and a sensitive eye for beauty. Curators go out of their way to maintain the home’s original atmosphere, and in doing so have created a welcomed time capsule amidst a hectic metropolis.

This intimate museum is just a few blocks from the Whitney, steps away from Central Park, and about a 15 minute walk from the Met. Go on Sundays between 11am and 1pm for a “pay what you wish” admission fee then take a lazy stroll to the nearby zoo to watch monkeys reenact Carnegie and Frick’s more intense debates.

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Here is what Wikipedia says about Frick Collection

The Frick Collection is an art museum located in the Henry Clay Frick House on the Upper East Side in Manhattan, New York City at 1 East 70th Street, located at the northeast corner with Fifth Avenue. It houses the collection of industrialist Henry Clay Frick (1849–1919).


Henry Frick started his substantial art collection as soon as he started amassing his fortunes. A considerable amount of his art collection is located in his former residence "Clayton" in Pittsburgh, which is today a part of the Frick Art & Historical Center. Another part was given by his daughter and heiress Helen to the Frick Fine Arts Building, which is on the campus of the University of Pittsburgh.

The family did not permanently move from Pittsburgh to New York until 1905. Henry Frick initially leased the Vanderbilt house at 640 Fifth Avenue, to which he moved a substantial amount of his collection. He had his permanent residence built between 1912 and 1914 by Thomas Hastings of Carrère and Hastings. He stayed in the house until his death in 1919. He willed the house and all of its contents, including art, furniture, and decorative objects, as a public museum. His widow Adelaide Howard Childs Frick, however, retained the right of residence and continued living in the mansion with her daughter Helen. After Adelaide Frick died in 1931, the conversion of the house into a public museum started.

John Russell Pope altered and enlarged the building in the early 1930s to adapt it to use as a public institution. It opened to the public on December 16, 1935. Various additions to the architecture and landscape architecture of the museum site have been considered over the years including the placement of a prominent magnolia garden from the 1930s. As stated by the museum announcements: "As a result of a decision of the Board of Trustees in 1939, three magnolias were selected for the Fifth Avenue garden. The two trees on the lower tier are Saucer Magnolias (Magnolia soulangeana) and the species on the upper tier by the flagpole is a Star Magnolia (Magnolia stellata)."

Further expansions of the museum took place in 1977 and in 2011. In 2014, the museum announced further expansion plans, but came up against community opposition because it would result in the loss of a garden. The Frick ultimately dropped those plans and is said to be considering other options.

Check out the full Wikipedia article about Frick Collection.