save the frick collection before
The Frick Collection expansion plan raises serious concerns with the community, and the public is being left out of the process.
The Frick Collection is a cultural gem in the Upper East Side community. The recently announced expansion plan threatens the integrity of the historic and landmarked house museum, and has not provided adequate time for the community to weigh in on the redevelopment.
Any redevelopment must preserve historic elements, including the iconic Russell Page Garden and the famous Music Room. The house museum must also take steps to ensure the new buildings are architecturally consistent with the existing elements. The current plan fails on both accounts.
The Frick Collection stands apart in New York City’s cultural fabric as a historic house museum, not an institutional museum. The new plan would create new entertainment spaces whose function extends far beyond the programmatic needs of a house museum and will open the floodgates for the over-commercialization of yet another museum in New York City.
lack of public input
The public has not been given a fair opportunity to provide feedback on this harmful expansion plan. We ask that the Frick Collection and the Landmarks Preservation Commission provide additional opportunities for public input, and take the time that is needed to address the serious concerns raised during the May 29 public hearing.
Concerns with the plan
1. the Russell Page Garden will be destroyed
Despite the Frick Collection’s claims that they will fully restore the Russell Page Garden, the current proposal will destroy or alter numerous elements of the garden. As several landscape historians have stated in their testimony to the Landmarks Preservation Commission, the new library tower will encroach on the north side of the garden, making it impossible to preserve the garden’s north wall. This includes the south-facing cornices referenced by the Landmarks Preservation Commission when the building was originally Landmarked, and the iconic elevated tree plantings at the top of the wall.
The redesign will also include the installation of large glass panels in place of the north wall’s existing windows, which deviates from Page’s original design. The glass panels and increase in height of the surrounding walls will lead to changing patterns of sun and shadow that will further alter the garden’s aesthetics.
The Russell Page Garden is a world-renowned artistic and horticultural icon, and we must not allow the Frick to move forward with a redevelopment that eliminates its signature architectural elements.
2. The renowned Music room will be destroyed to accommodate the proposed conservation building
The renowned Music Room has for over eighty years served as New York City's premier venue for chamber music concerts and recitals. The Music Room has hosted over a thousand performances, and hundreds of live concerts from WNYC.
The proposed expansion plan unnecessarily results in the destruction of the Music Room despite several viable alternatives. The Music Room is regularly viewed by the public and sought for use by classical musicians, and is a central and irreplaceable element of the Frick Collection. In fact, we call on the Landmarks Preservation Commission to provide landmark status to the Music Room.
3. the proposed café adjacent to the Russell Page Garden is unnecessary and problematic
The proposed café will introduce a serious risk of rodent infestation in the adjacent Russell Page Garden. We should learn from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which was forced to eliminate its garden adjacent to the new food service café after it became a rodent breeding ground.
The proposed café, catering operation, auditorium, and education center are attempts to commercialize the house museum and create revenue by booking external events. We must not allow the desire to commercialize the Frick Collection to further threaten the iconic Russell Page Garden.
4. the proposed Development will overwhelm the beautiful, iconic mansion at the center of the house museum
Building a new structure over the renowned music room is the equivalent of adding a seven story building to the house museum. Additionally, the all-glass connecting passage between the Library and the new structure is not consistent with both the existing landmarked architecture as well as the architecture of the proposed Conservation building. We must protect and preserve the house museum's historic elements and original architecture.
Time is running out to stop the Frick from moving forward with an irresponsible development plan. The Landmarks Preservation Commission is set to meet again on June 26th. Contact your elected officials today to make your voice heard. We cannot let the Frick Collection become another commercialized museum in New York City.
About the coalition
We are a group of concerned neighbors, preservationists, and open space activists who stand for responsible development of New York City's historic Frick Collection.