This article is reprinted from the Spring/Summer 2017 issue of the Members’ Magazine.
When I first met with Board Chair Margot Bogert to discuss becoming director of The Frick Collection, in 2011, my meeting with her confirmed there was nowhere else I would rather be. We talked easily about the museum and its founder, and I was struck by her warmth and her gracious, down-to-earth manner. Over the past six years, my initial impressions have proven correct. Her palpable enthusiasm and love for the institution combined with her clear vision for its future have made it a pleasure and a privilege to work with her. I have come to know her well, not only during Trustee meetings and business lunches, but also on trips abroad with her and her husband, Jerry, and other friends of the Frick. As a new director, I was fortunate to have such a veteran partner offer me her wise guidance and steadfast encouragement. So it is with sadness that I announce that after twelve full and productive years as Chair of the Board of Trustees, Margot Bogert has stepped down. She will not be retiring from the Board, however, but will continue to serve in a leadership role as the chair of the development committee, the co-chair (along with Bradford Evans) of the capital campaign committee, and a member of the nominating committee. In early June she was succeeded by Trustee Elizabeth Eveillard.
Margot and Jerry have been supporters of the Frick since 1971. They became Contributing Fellows in 1998 and members of the Director’s Circle in 2004. Margot joined the Board of Trustees in 2000, recommended by her longtime friend, then-Board Chair Helen Clay Chace, whom she succeeded in 2005. Helen Clay had been the third Frick family member to serve in the position, succeeding her uncle, Henry Clay Frick II, who had replaced his father, Childs Frick (the son of founder, Henry Clay Frick). That Margot became the first individual outside the Frick family to lead the institution in this capacity speaks volumes.
Her leadership has been exemplary, in every sense of the word. Her devotion to the Frick is manifest in the many hours of service she has given, along with financial support whenever and wherever needed. Margot has always led by example. She and Jerry have given generously to the endowments for the chief curator, chief conservator, and decorative arts curator and have supported several exhibitions over the years, including Jean-Étienne Liotard: Swiss Master (2006), Andrea del Sarto: The Renaissance Workshop in Action (2015–16), and Porcelain, No Simple Matter: Arlene Shechet and the Arnhold Collection (2016–17). On the rare occasions when exhibitions have fallen short of funding, she has stepped in to make up the difference. In 2008, when the wall covering in the East Gallery was in need of replacement—the type of routine maintenance that does not usually attract or inspire prospective funders—Margot came to the rescue and paid for the salmon-colored silk fabric that provides such a striking backdrop for the Collection’s Old Masters.
Margot’s shrewd intelligence and her ability to read people, along with her keen interest in them, contribute to her success as a leader. She has touched many members of the staff, sending notes or gifts to bolster their spirits or compliment them on a job well done. After meetings, she often can be found on the mansion’s second floor, chatting with staff members in their offices, or downstairs in the staff cafeteria having lunch with colleagues she has come to know during her long association with the Frick. Anyone who knows Margot will attest to her disarming sense of humor and quick wit—and her unfailing ability to tell it like it is, a quality appreciated by all. Her professional experience, practical wisdom, and strength of character have been of invaluable help to staff members, trustees, and colleagues, making her widely loved and respected throughout the institution.
Beyond the Frick, Margot has had a long and varied career in the not-for-profit world. From 1998 to 2004, she served as Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Sarah Lawrence College, where she had acted as Vice Chairman since 1995. For the previous nine years, she held a professional fundraising position there as Vice President for College Resources, during which time she launched the college’s first major capital campaign. She was also one of the first women to serve as a member of the National Executive Board of Directors of the Boy Scouts of America. In 2004, she founded the World Scout Fund USA, which supports community projects in underdeveloped nations.
Owing to her involvement with these and other non-profit institutions, Margot is an experienced and accomplished fundraiser. She understands the importance of forming and sustaining relationships new and old and has done much to foster many rewarding friendships at the Frick. Working closely with me and my predecessor, Anne L. Poulet, she has built a larger and more dynamic Board of Trustees, as well as a constituency that shares her commitment to the Frick’s institutional mission. By strengthening the Frick’s financial future, its curators, educators, and librarians have been able to fulfill their collective vision and organize ever more important exhibitions, conduct and publish substantial research, add acquisitions of the greatest quality to the permanent collection, offer vibrant and innovative programs, and move the Frick Art Reference Library into the digital age, while simultaneously maintaining its preeminence in more traditional pursuits.
During Margot’s tenure, the Frick has mounted exhibitions of enormous popularity, such as Vermeer, Rembrandt, and Hals: Masterpieces of Dutch Painting from the Mauritshuis (2013–14); of considerable scope, such as Van Dyck: The Anatomy of Portraiture (2016); and those that examine neglected artists in great depth, such as Pierre Gouthière: Virtuoso Gilder at the French Court (2016–17). Selections from Henry Arnhold’s collection of Meissen porcelain, Melinda and Paul Sullivan’s gift of Du Paquier porcelain, and some 450 of Stephen and Janie Woo Scher’s portrait medals were given or pledged under her guidance. Over the years, we have worked closely to foster a greater sense of inclusiveness by supporting education initiatives targeted towards groups of all ages, including middle-school, high-school, and college students. Of the numerous programs initiated under Margot, First Fridays—which bring a younger audience and many first-time visitors into the galleries—have been a particular joy to her.
When she assumed the chairmanship in 2005, Margot praised her predecessors for the value they placed on tradition and the efforts they made to uphold the standards that the institution has espoused for decades. At the same time, she recognized that the museum needs more resources to support the presentation and preservation of its art collection, dedicated rooms for educational programs, and adequate space to welcome visitors. She has championed my efforts to address these needs, recognizing that progress can be accomplished quietly and elegantly without affecting the essence or the scale of this beloved institution.
We are grateful for Margot’s inestimable contributions, and I personally cannot thank her enough. Thank you, Margot.
Margot Bogert. Photo: Michael Bodycomb