Safeguarding The Frick Collection

As the Monuments Men worked to preserve cultural treasures in combat areas abroad, The Frick Collection, along with other museums and cultural institutions in New York, directed its efforts to protecting cultural treasures on the home front.

As early as 1940, Frick staff began evaluating the safety of the collection and preparing contingency plans in the face of possible attack on New York. Construction of a new vault for works of art began in 1941, and by the spring of 1942, all of the enamels, most of the porcelains and small bronzes, and 65 paintings were placed in storage. Remaining works of art were displayed in order to keep the museum open to the public.

In 1942, George Stout, Conservator at the Fogg Museum and former Frick conservation consultant, corresponded with Frick Collection Director Frederick Mortimer Clapp about the conservation of artwork during wartime. The following year, Stout was one of the first recruits to the Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives section (Monuments Men).

  • Photograph showing the excavation process during the construction of the new vault.

    Construction - 9 East 70th Street Storage Building, May 6, 1941, Frick Collection/Frick Art Reference Library Photographs. The Frick Collection/Frick Art Reference Library Archives.

  • Staff  removing Jean Antoine Houdon’s “Diana the Huntress” to storage in the New Vault, May 1942, The Frick Collection/Frick Art Reference Library Photographs. The Frick Collection/Frick Art Reference Library Archives.

  • View of John Constable’s Salisbury Cathedral from the Bishop's Garden,” with paintings stored in the New Vault, September 17, 1942, The Frick Collection/Frick Art Reference Library Photographs. The Frick Collection/Frick Art Reference Library Archives.

  • View of sculptures stored in the New Vault, September 17, 1942, The Frick Collection/Frick Art Reference Library Photographs. The Frick Collection/Frick Art Reference Library Archives.

  • Frick Collection Press Release announcing the removal of works of art to a place of safety and the re-hanging of the galleries.

    Press Release, June 5, 1942, The Frick Collection/Frick Art Reference Library Printed Material. The Frick Collection/Frick Art Reference Library Archives.

  • View of the East Gallery, October 5, 1942. The Frick Collection/Frick Art Reference Library Photographs. The Frick Collection/Frick Art Reference Library Archives.

  • View of the East Gallery and Oval Room, October 5, 1942, The Frick Collection/Frick Art Reference Library Photographs.The Frick Collection/Frick Art Reference Library Archives.

  • Charles Meryon’s “Etchings of Paris,” South Hall, west wall, October 5, 1942, The Frick Collection/Frick Art Reference Library Photographs.The Frick Collection/Frick Art Reference Library Archives.

  • View of the West Gallery, November 16, 1942, The Frick Collection/Frick Art Reference Library Photographs.The Frick Collection/Frick Art Reference Library Archives.

  • Pictures and Drawings Now on Exhibition after Removal of Part of the Collection to the Vault in May 1942, The Frick Collection Central Files. The Frick Collection/Frick Art Reference Library Archives.

  • Pictures and Drawings Now on Exhibition after Removal of Part of the Collection to the Vault in May 1942, The Frick Collection Central Files. The Frick Collection/Frick Art Reference Library Archives. Page 2. 

  • Pictures and Drawings Now on Exhibition after Removal of Part of the Collection to the Vault in May 1942, The Frick Collection Central Files. The Frick Collection/Frick Art Reference Library Archives. Page 3. 

  • Pictures and Drawings Now on Exhibition after Removal of Part of the Collection to the Vault in May 1942, The Frick Collection Central Files. The Frick Collection/Frick Art Reference Library Archives. Page 4.

  • Letter from George Stout, future Monuments Man, to Frederick Mortimer Clapp, Director of the Frick Collection, regarding his report on the problem of museum conservation during wartime, April 21, 1942.

    George Stout letter to Frederick Mortimer Clapp, April 21, 1942, The Frick Collection Central Files, 1942. The Frick Collection/Frick Art Reference Library Archives.

  • George Stout's report on the problem of museum conservation during wartime, April 21, 1942. 

    George Stout Report, The Frick Collection Central Files, 1942. The Frick Collection/Frick Art Reference Library Archives.

  • George Stout's report on the problem of museum conservation during wartime, April 21, 1942. Page 2.

    George Stout Report, The Frick Collection Central Files, 1942. The Frick Collection/Frick Art Reference Library Archives.

  • George Stout's report on the problem of museum conservation during wartime, April 21, 1942. Page 3.

    George Stout Report,The Frick Collection Central Files, 1942. The Frick Collection/Frick Art Reference Library Archives.

  • George Stout's report on the problem of museum conservation during wartime, April 21, 1942. Page 4.

    George Stout Report,The Frick Collection Central Files, 1942. The Frick Collection/Frick Art Reference Library Archives.