New Portico Gallery Opened with Presentation of Sculpture and Selections from an Important Promised Gift of Meissen Porcelain from Henry H. Arnhold
Since December 13, 2011, visitors to The Frick Collection have been able to enjoy a new gallery — the first major addition to the museum's display spaces in nearly thirty-five years. The inspiration for this initiative, which involved the enclosure of the portico in the Fifth Avenue Garden, came from the intention of museum founder Henry Clay Frick (1849–1919) to build an addition to his 1914 mansion for his growing Collection of sculpture. The project was postponed in 1917 following the United States' entry into World War I, and Mr. Frick died before it could be resumed. In recent years, the institution has placed greater focus on sculpture through critically acclaimed exhibitions and several key acquisitions, while also evaluating the effectiveness of the display and lighting of such objects. Another area of increased focus has been the decorative arts. When talks began with renowned porcelain collector Henry H. Arnhold about a promised gift, the idea to create a gallery both for sculpture and the decorative arts was revisited. The architecture firm Aedas developed a plan to integrate the outdoor garden portico into the fabric of the museum, and groundbreaking occurred in the winter of 2010. Aedas, formerly known as Davis Brody Bond Aedas, is one of the leading practices in the United States engaged in a range of museum and landmark structure commissions.
The Portico Gallery for Decorative Arts and Sculpture opened in late December 2011 with an inaugural exhibition of works drawn from Henry Arnhold's promised gift of 131 examples of Meissen porcelain from the early years of this Royal Manufactory's production. On extended view through January 6, 2013, White Gold: Highlights from the Arnhold Collection of Meissen Porcelain featured approximately seventy of these objects, presented along with a group of eighteenth-century sculptures by Jean-Antoine Houdon (1740–1828). Among the latter works was the full-length terracotta Diana the Huntress, a signature work at the Frick that returned to view having been recently cleaned and treated. It found a permanent home in the new portico gallery, while the display of other sculptures and ceramics rotated periodically.