The Frick Celebrates its 85th Anniversary

Logo black and white, 85th anniversary

New York (December 8, 2020) Beginning today, The Frick Collection marks the 85th anniversary of its opening with a range of free content across its digital platforms. On December 16, 1935, the museum opened its doors to the public, sharing with New York City and the world Henry Clay Frick’s extraordinary art collection and the Fifth Avenue Gilded Age mansion that houses it. The Frick remains one of New York’s cultural treasures, famed for its masterpieces by Bellini, Fragonard, Gainsborough, Goya, El Greco, Holbein, Houdon, Ingres, Rembrandt, Renoir, Turner, Vermeer, Whistler, and others. This milestone comes at another important moment for the institution, as the museum and library prepare for renovations of their historic buildings and the temporary move to Frick Madison. Works from the permanent collection will be displayed for the first time chronologically and by region in the Marcel Breuer–designed building on Madison Avenue during a two-year installation, scheduled to open in early 2021. Additionally, 2020 marks the 100th anniversary of the Frick Art Reference Library’s founding in 1920 by Helen Clay Frick, Henry Clay Frick’s daughter.

Though the museum’s galleries have been closed during the Covid-19 pandemic, the Frick is excited to share this milestone anniversary virtually with its global community through new programs and engaging content, as the institution celebrates the past and looks ahead to the future. Ian Wardropper, the Frick’s Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Director, welcomes visitors to the festivities in a short video discussing the museum’s history and anticipating the installation at Frick Madison. Two new episodes of the Frick’s acclaimed series Cocktails with a Curatorwhich premiere every Friday at 5:00 p.m., will bookend the anniversary celebration and offer insights on the history of the collection. On December 11, Curator Aimee Ng discusses Vermeer’s Mistress and Maid (1666−67), the last painting Mr. Frick purchased before his death in 1919. In the program that airs on December 18, the eve of Mr. Frick’s birthday, Deputy Director and Peter Jay Sharp Chief Curator Xavier F. Salomon speaks about Malvina Hoffman’s 1922 Bust of Henry Clay Frick, commissioned by Helen Clay Frick as a tribute to her father. The portrait, prominently displayed in the entrance hall, has welcomed visitors to the museum for decades. This popular series airs on the Frick’s YouTube channel, where viewers can access past episodes along with recipes for the specially selected cocktails that complement the subject of each episode.

Additional anniversary offerings include articles that illuminate key moments in the early years of the institution. Among them are highlights from “Legacy of Beauty”: The Frick Collection 1935, a sampling of excerpts from the contemporary press coverage of the museum’s openingas well as an article that delves into objects acquired between 1919 and 1935 by Helen Clay Frick, who was instrumental in guiding the museum’s early acquisitions. These works include Ingres’ Comtesse d'Haussonville (1845) and Duccio’s Temptation of Christ on the Mountain (1308−11). The Frick is also publishing a list of eighty-five little-known facts about the institution, which range from Frick family trivia and museum history to the museum’s surprising appearances and influence on pop culture and film.

This month, Frick fans may also pre-order the forthcoming publication, The Sleeve Should Be Illegal & Other Reflections on Art at the Frickan eclectic anthology presenting musings and meditations by artists, writers, musicians, and other cultural luminaries, each entry focusing on a single work of art. The most recent volume in the Frick Diptych series is now available to purchase online. The publication, which focuses on Constable’s White Horseincludes illuminating essays by Curator Aimee Ng and artist William Kentridge.

The institution celebrates another important milestone this year, the centennial of the Frick Art Reference Library, which opened to the public in 1922, two years after Helen Clay Frick founded it in the basement of her family’s mansion. Housed today in a 1935 building designed by John Russell Pope, the library is one of the world’s top art history research centers, serving students, art historians, and art professionals, as well as the general public. While the anniversary of its opening will be celebrated in 2022 with a forthcoming publication featuring 100 objects in the library’s collections, this month, the Frick offers an online preview of interesting highlights.

Further celebratory posts inspired by the museum’s opening eighty-five years ago this December can be found on the institution’s InstagramFacebook, and Twitter accounts. For all virtual events and content visit


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