artnet News Takes Note: We’re “Racking Up Signatures”

Incredible progress! The press is beginning to take notice of Unite’s online petition.

artnet_Wally Gobetz_FlickrSeptember 17, 2014 — A petition urging the Frick to drop its plans for expansion began making the rounds on Monday and has, as of this writing, already garnered over 280 supporters. Created by a group calling itself Unite to Save the Frick on Change.org, the petition is addressed to 11 people including chair of the Frick Collection‘s board of trustees, Margot Bogert, the chair of New York City’s Landmarks Preservation Commission, Meenakshi Srinivasan, and mayor Bill de Blasio.

“We the undersigned,” it begins, “call upon the Board of Trustees of the Frick Collection to withdraw the museum’s ill-conceived expansion proposal, which would destroy two of the City, State and National-landmarked museum’s most essential elements and irreparably damage the unique sense of intimacy that is a hallmark of the Frick experience. We also call upon our public officials to deny approval of this expansion plan.”

The Frick’s expansion plan, which was unveiled in June, calls for doing away with the coveted viewing garden on East 70th Street designed by landscape architect Russell Page (see “Frick Garden was Meant to Be Permanent“), building a tower in the place of the garden, and extending the six-story Frick library building, which has an entrance on 71st street, to 70th street. It would also transform the music room, a unique circular space used for concerts and lectures, into a gallery for temporary exhibitions. Only 3,600 square feet of the planned 40,000 square-foot addition would be used for showing art.

The key aims of Unite to Save the Frick, as stated in the petition, are the preservation of the Frick’s “character-defining intimacy,” preventing the destruction of the Russell Page Viewing Garden, and maintaining the museum’s “residential scale.”

Since the plans were announced, detractors of the expansion plans have been voicing their concerns, including New York Times architecture critic Michael Kimmelman, who wrote, “New Yorkers have seen the consequences of trustee restlessness and real estate magical thinking, which destroy or threaten to undo favorite buildings.” Our own Elizabeth Manus noted the building’s value to museum-goers and passersby alike (see “Let the Frick Be“).

Among the petition’s supporters are author and MacArthur fellow Lydia Davis who gave the following impassioned plea:

The Frick has remained unchanged since my childhood. I return to it regularly. It allows me to experience its artworks in depth and over time in a consistent way that is impossible anywhere else. The intimacy of the private-home feel and the beauty of the balance of light and space, density and color, indoors and outdoors, quiet and subdued sound, is vital to the experience of this wonderful place. Do not change a good thing—an invaluable asset to New York City.

Photo: Wally Gobetz via Flickr.

Review other recent press here; receive updates as a petition signer, here.

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