“ 1 East 70th Street, at Fifth Avenue. Tel: +1 (212) 288 0700. Admission $5 adults and $3 students, senior citizens, under 16s. No credit cards. Disabled access. „
The Frick was not top of my list for things to do in NYC (if you must know, the list started off with Barnes and Noble and the Strand, closely followed by Lindt and Godiva) but things changed on my flight out. I was sitting next to an elderly (think 70 +) gentleman and we got talking, as you do when you’re sitting next to someone for 6+ hours and the film on offer is Tomb Raider…. It turned out we had the strangest things in common, from both having taken ballet lessons for years (he still does) to both having worked for Siemens in Austria…. He spoke numerous foreign language (not just Spanish - almost unheard of for Americans) and we actually started talking when he noticed I was reading a German novel (he in turn was reading a French one…). Anyway he told me about the Frick and I decided to pop along if I had the time. By Friday during my stay I had not been to a single museum – somehow shopping had gotten (ooh, Americanisms) in the way and I hadn’t got round to it, so with 2 and a half days left, I decided to make a whirlwind tour of museum mile and beyond. My first stop was the MOMA, my second this place, and wow was there a difference. Firstly, the layout. The Frick is housed in a residential setting (that’s a house to you and me) and among the pieces of artwork there are bits and pieces of furniture that Henry Clay Frick himself owned when he lived there before he died jut after the end of the second world war. Now Mr Frick was slightly wealthy to say the least, and this is reflected in the art (all his own) and other items on display. Because of its location, the collection is not surrounded by minimalist walls and floors like the MOMA or Met. Nope, this one has carpets and bookshelves (housing real books) and even, wait for it, wallpaper. Most areas are totally open to the public with only a few roped off to prevent prying hands, but be warned, as you strut your stuff from one side of the room to another,
you might be treading over an oriental rug of valuable French carpet…. There are 15 rooms and halls open to the public, with a gorgeous (and relaxing) garden court in the middle. There are seats throughout with extra benches outside (well inside since it’s enclosed – but it feels like outside because of the glass roof if you see what I mean) by the fountains. The art on offer could never rival “normal” galleries in terms of quantity, but certainly could in the quality stakes. All on one floor, with several main rooms and a number of annexes, we find works from Renoir (again), Degas (again), Whistler (I’ll stop saying again as it’s getting tedious), Vermeer and Boucher. Gainsborough, Fragonard, Constable, Turner, Goya, Rembrandt, Holbein and many other famous artist types also put in appearances. Although none of the pieces themselves are wonderfully well known (bear in mind I saw the original “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon”, “The Starry Night”, “Water Lilies” and many more last week) it’s still a pretty impressive set, especially when you bear in mind the fact that this was just one guy’s collection. There is a small but reasonably comprehensive shop and despite the fact they must only have a fraction of the visitors the other galleries get, the prices are average to low. Same goes for entrance - $5 for here for students (no ID needed with the girl who served me) is much more affordable than the $12 the Guggenheim charge for us studying types. Audio Guides are available and, for once, free which is a nice bonus. Although there isn’t a café within the building, there are numerous eateries within a few minues walk, and several stands opposite (on the Central Park side) selling the usual Pretzels and ice creams and drinks. Bags need to be checked when you arrive but this is usually quick, simple and free (meaning usually quick and simple
, and always free...) and coats will be put in the cloakroom if you ask. Children under 10 years are not admitted, and those under 16 must be accompanied by an adult which was a refreshing change after the screaming brats charging around the MOMA. Open from 10am Tuesday through Saturday and from 1pm on Sundays, the museum shuts daily at 6pm (except on Mondays when it doesn’t shut because it doesn’t open…) It is easy to reach being only about 5 minutes from 68th street subway (best bet is line 6) and a few minutes from the stops of the M1-M4 busses. Worth it if you like art, or want a taste of Europe in an otherwise incredibly American city, but if you have young children I wouldn’t say it’s worth getting a babysitter just so you can go.
The Frick Collection is housed on Museum Mile in New York City, on the corner of 5th Avenue and East 70th Street. It houses the priceless art collection of steel magnate Henry Clay Frick, in his former residence. As well as offering an insight into the life of a wealthy New Yorker at the turn of the last century, this opulent mansion houses a superb collection of old master paintings, French furniture, Limoges enamels and Oriental rugs. There are two of the world's remaining 36 paintings by Vermeer here, as well as works by Constable, Turner, Holbein (his excellent painting of Sir Thomas More is here), Renoir, El Greco, and many others. It is suprising that so few tourists visit the Frick collection, because the building itself is so fascinating, and the entrance fee is remarkably cheap. While I prefer contemporary art, I still found this to be an enjoyable gallery, and its convenient situation made it easy to visit on the way to the Solomon R Guggenheim Museum.