Digitization

The Photoarchive is currently in the process of making all of its holdings available digitally. This is an ongoing process, and newly digitized materials are routinely being added to the Frick Digital Collections. Current and past digitization projects are generously supported by numerous grants, detailed below.

NEH Grant

The Photoarchive is currently working on a project funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities to digitize more than 73,000 photographic images of American and European sculpture and American gallery inventories from the twentieth century. This project will complete online access to the Frick's 1.2 million reference images and make accessible previously unavailable materials such as negatives and transparencies. This project is also supported by a matching grant from the Helen Clay Frick Foundation.

Mellon Grant 

In February 2021, the Frick Art Reference Library announced the completion of a three-year project to digitize its historic Photoarchive collection. Funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, this initiative has made images and detailed metadata records for more than 175,000 works of art available through the Frick Digital Collections, NYARC Discovery, and FRESCO (the library’s online catalog), joining the 184,000 records that were previously digitized.

Now available to researchers are all of the fully cataloged materials for paintings and drawings. These photographs are mounted on 9 x 12-inch gray cardboard and contain detailed provenance and attribution histories for each work of art they document. In addition to high resolution images for each work of art, all accompanying documentation has been digitized, giving researchers full access that was previously only available onsite at the library.

Digitization of Endangered Library Negatives (Projects Prior to 2016)

By far the most valued component of the Photoarchive is its unique negatives collection. This collection comprises three major sections: negatives produced during the Photoarchive’s American photography campaigns; negatives commissioned from the Florentine photographer Mario Sansoni before and after World War II; and negatives of works of art for sale at London auctions purchased from the firm A. C. Cooper. These total 57,000 large-format negatives and are, for the most part, unique visual records of lesser-known and previously unpublished works of art. The fragile and, in some cases, now deteriorated negatives have all been digitized in order to preserve the images for future generations and make them broadly available to researchers. The images from the digitized negatives are now available through the Frick Digital Collections.

The National Endowment for the Humanities awarded the Frick two successive grants (2009–2013) to digitize and provide electronic access to the 30,000 endangered negatives made during its twentieth-century American photography expeditions. Additional support was provided by the Henry Luce Foundation. The project was designated as part of the NEH's We the People initiative to encourage and strengthen the teaching, study, and understanding of American history and culture. 

The Mario Sansoni and A. C. Cooper negatives were digitized through generous funding from the Carl and Lily Pforzheimer Foundation, The New York Times Company Foundation, and Artstor (2003–2007). The 8,132 negatives commissioned from the Florentine photographer Mario Sansoni between 1925 and 1951 document paintings, frescoes, and sculpture in remote towns throughout Italy. In some cases, the Sansoni negatives are the only surviving record of works of art that have since become unavailable to the public, severely damaged, or permanently lost.

More than 9,000 of the negatives were purchased from the London photographic firm A. C. Cooper in 1935 and include images of paintings, drawings, and sculpture offered for sale at London art auctions in the 1920s. The digital images and historical documentation for the works of art were contributed to Artstor, a nonprofit digital image library for teaching and research. Artstor receives more than 100,000 requests for these images annually.