Updated: May 21, 2015
Frick Collection Art MuseumWhen it comes to art, New York has plenty to offer. From the famous Metropolitan Museum of Art to the Whitney to MOMA, the big museums have it covered. That's why its nice to drop into some of the smaller New York art museums, like the Frick Collection. Named after Henry Clay Frick, the collection is housed in his lavish 5th Avenue private mansion and has been open to the public since 1935. Frick was one of those early 20th century industrialists (sometimes known as robber barons) who amassed his fortune in the coke and steel business (Frick and Carnegie Steel combined to form US Steel), and spent a lot of that money acquiring fine art from around the globe. In this guide, we will walk you through the Frick Collection, with details on hours, prices, and other information to make your visit enjoyable.
Small New York Art MuseumsJust because this is a small museum doesn't mean you shouldn't come with high expectations. For me, the highlight of visiting the Frick Collection is the location and the building itself. This is one of the few surviving single home mansions from the early 20th century, where these rich mens' homes took up entire blocks in the days before towering apartment buildings. Being able to walk through it (ground floor only, no access to 2nd floor, though there is a lovely staircase going up in the middle of the home..) gives you a sense of what life must have been like for these people - treasures from around the world surrounding you, a front lawn that opens onto Central Park, some of the most expensive real estate in the city.. The house itself was built in 1914 and Frick died in 1919, so he did not actually spend that much time there (he had spent most of his life around Pittsburgh). But he did fill the home with sculptures, paintings, carpets, and other works of art that filled the living space of the home. You'll find paintings from Boucher, El Greco, Rembrandt, Titian, van Dyck, Whistler, Goya, Holbein, and many others. We recommend you pick up the free Acoustiguide Audio Tour when you enter - you key in the numerical code of the art you are viewing and hold the telephone-like device to your ear, and you will learn all about each piece. Again, this is a free service, so take advantage of it. You'll get a map guide when you enter, and it is suggested that you follow the numbered rooms on the map to make the most of your visit. One of the most lovely parts of the building is the Garden Court, right in the center, which is a magnificent indoor atrium filled with plants and fountains. Linger here for a few moments -- who else has a room like this in their NY home or apartment?!
The Frick Collection is like wandering through a home and not so much like a formal museum, so small children are not allowed -- only kids 10 and older are admitted. Ticket prices are reasonable - $15 for adults and $5 for students. An even better deal is on Sunday afternoons from 11AM-1PM when you can pay whatever you like to enjoy the collection (ie, if you are on a budget, pay just $1 to enter). The hours for the Frick Collection are Tues-Sat 10AM-6PM, 11AM-5PM on Sundays. The museum is closed on Mondays. The museum is located on 5th Avenue at 70th, facing Central Park - in fact, I think it is the only home in NYC that has a front lawn opening to Central Park (even though enclosed by a gate). The entrance is on the side along 70th Street. The nearest subway stop is the Number 6 local train on 68th street at Lexington. One word of warning - no photography of any kind, flash or no flash, is allowed inside the collection, so please keep cameras tucked away or risk the wrath of the omni-present employees!
Their official website is Frick.org. Stop by -- you can take a virtual tour here with 360 degree views of the main rooms - even artwork on the walls is highlighted and clickable (you need to enable pop-up windows in your browser to go to these screens). On the detailed screens you'll find information about each piece art - artist, date, and basic info on the piece. You can even listen to the ArtPhone audio commentary in MP3 form, right on the site. It really is like a virtual tour of the museum. Having visited many museums and many websites, we have to say this is one of the best put together online experiences we have scene -- even if you can't make it to the museum, be sure to browse the Frick Collection at home.