Here’s Everything Going On at the Frick Until It Reopens Later This Year

Between Frick Madison's closure and the Frick Collection's reopening, there's quite a bit to do and see.

The Frick Collection. (Courtesy The Frick)
The Frick Collection. Courtesy the Frick Collection

This past Sunday marked the final day of the Frick Collection’s Madison Avenue residency in the iconic Marcel Breuer-designed Modernist building soon to be owned by Sotheby’s, but the institution’s historic home on Fifth Avenue won’t reopen until later this year. Frick fans awaiting the return of the Gilded Age mansion museum will have to be patient, but they won’t have to go cold turkey thanks to a schedule of new and continuing opportunities to engage virtually with the museum and its storied collection from anywhere—including on TikTok—plus in-person via several permanent collection loans to institutions in the U.S. and abroad.

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This is what’s on at the Frick until the museum reopens its doors:

Renovation Stories

A woman in a still from a video
A still from ‘Renovation Stories.’ Courtesy the Frick Collection

Next week, the Frick Collection will formally launch Renovation Stories, a video series about the multi-year building project. Fans of the museum’s historic Fifth Avenue buildings may have watched the shorts of the same name on YouTube. The fifteen new videos, which will feature director Ian Wardropper; architect Annabelle Selldorf; curators Xavier F. Salomon, Aimee Ng, Giulio Dalvit and Marie-Laure Buku Pongo; chief conservator Joseph Godla; and artisans involved in the renovation, will be released every two weeks starting March 12 for members and March 19 for everyone else. The first video will feature Carolyn Straub, architect and Associate Director for Capital Projects, discussing how the Frick’s archives have informed the renovation from planning to execution.

SEE ALSO: The Most Anticipated Art Museum Openings and Expansions of 2024

Frick’s ‘Tabletop Atelier’

In April, the Frick will debut a new lunchtime Instagram Live series for art enthusiasts and aspiring artists of all levels led by April Kim Tonin, Ayesha Bulchandani Head of Education and Public Engagement. On the third Thursday of the month at noon EST, this 20-minute virtual drop-in program invites Frick fans to try their hand at drawing exercises that explore the fundamentals of sketching as practiced by the Old Masters.

Drawing Together

For those who want a more rigorous art-making experience, the Frick has a series of 90-minute interactive evening sessions hosted by the museum’s educators and open to the public. Each session includes drawing warm-ups, a deep-dive into a work of art and an open-ended prompt meant to inspire participants to make their own creations, which they can share with the group. The first Drawing Together session will take place on Thursday, March 21, at 7 p.m. Registration is required.

The ‘Continue the Conversation’ Series

For those who’d like the deep-dive without the drawing, Continue the Conversation is a monthly discussion-based educational event series led by the Frick Collection’s experts. Over the course of an hour, art enthusiasts learn about a single masterpiece through thoughtful and sustained dialogues. Active participation is strongly encouraged; registration is required and space is limited.

The Frick Art Reference Library Book Club

If you missed the Frick Library’s Autumn Book Club—readers enjoyed Jiro Taniguchi’s “Guardians of the Louvre”—you can sign up for the spring session, which will focus on “The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone” by Olivia Laing, who explores the intersection of loneliness and art. Readers will meet on March 28 at 4 p.m. EST on Zoom to discuss the book with Eugénie Fortier, Storage and Retrieval Lead. Registration is required.

An Old Master painting of two people in a dimly lit room near a window
Johannes Vermeer (1632–1675), ‘Girl Interrupted at Her Music,’ ca. 1658–59, oil on canvas, 15 1/2 x 17 1/2 in. (39.4 x 44.5 cm), The Frick Collection, New York. Michael Bodycomb / Courtesy the Frick Collection

And those Frick fans missing their favorite works of art from the collection might be able to catch them elsewhere—provided they’re willing to travel. At the Frick Pittsburgh, “Vermeer, Monet, Rembrandt: Forging the Frick Collections in Pittsburgh and New York” will have works by Monet, Rembrandt, Degas, El Greco, Ingres, Titian, Vermeer, Whistler and others. Meanwhile, Piero’s St. Leonard, St. John the Evangelist, The Crucifixion and St. Monica are on view at the Poldi Pezzoli Museum in Milan and Velázquez’s King Philip IV of Spain will be on view at the Calouste Gulbenkian Museum in Lisbon starting on April 11.

How museums handle unplanned and planned closures

As much as people associate museums closing their doors with COVID-19, cultural institutions have always had to deal with planned and unplanned closures for maintenance and upgrades. MoMA closed for four months of renovations in 2019. The National Museum of Women in the Arts (NMWA) reopened last year after a planned two-year closure. The Centre Pompidou in Paris is currently preparing for its upcoming five-year closure, during which much of its collection will be on display in institutions in Paris and across France.

How museums handle short- and long-term closures varies, though many look for ways to maintain in-person engagement. When MoMA closed for a redesign in 2002, it opened MoMA QNS in Long Island City, which had 25,000 square feet of exhibition space and was able to accommodate several blockbuster exhibitions over two years. When the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis closed for renovations in 2004, it hosted a “Walker Without Walls” event series in its sculpture garden and grounds. More recently, the Princeton University Art Museum launched Art on Hulfish, a gallery project in downtown Princeton that will continue to host four exhibitions annually until the university museum’s new facility opens its doors in 2025.

When physical exhibition spaces were entirely (and unexpectedly) closed to visitors during the pandemic, museums around the world had to quickly find ways to keep audiences engaged, and most experimented with digital initiatives that virtualized the experience of interacting with art. The simplest of these initiatives leveraged the power of social media: for the low price of a follow, art lovers enjoyed daily deep dives into artworks, pre-recorded video tours and live curator and artist talks. The most robust brought something close to the in-person museum experience into people’s homes with interactive, 360-degree guided walkthroughs.

“Very quickly, our digital channels became our programming,” Carolina Alvarez-Mathies, the Deputy Director of Dallas Contemporary, told Observer in 2020. “Social media, our website, Instagram; they’re not how we’re communicating our programming, they now are our programming.”

One question museums must grapple with after re-opening is whether to keep closure resources and modified programming up and running. Sometimes the answer is yes. After a fire broke out in New York City’s Museum of Chinese in America, it launched a partnership with Google that put digitized images of its collection on the Google Arts & Culture platform, along with a virtual exhibition that’s still up: “Trial by Fire: The Race to Save 200 Years of Chinese American History.” But not infrequently, institutions determine that the resources required to, say, host online events or create VR gallery walkthroughs are best used elsewhere.

Here’s Everything Going On at the Frick Until It Reopens Later This Year