In an unexpected turn of events, visitors to the former Whitney museum location may be seeing selections from The Frick Collection instead of modern and contemporary art presented by The MET. The MET and The Frick Collection jointly announced they are in talks for The Frick take over the Met Breuer while it renovates its Gilded Age mansion. If the plans go through, The Frick takeover would be a temporary one. Most likely, the change would occur in late 2020, if approval for the Frick's construction project is received.
The new collaboration between The MET and The Frick would allow the public to have continual access to the Frick's collection, exhibitions, library resources and education programs. The alternative would be to close The Frick completely during the renovation, stated Ian Wardropper, Director of The Frick Collection, in the announcement.
Adam D. Weinberg, the Alice Pratt Brown Director of the Whitney, added, "The Met has been and will continue to be an excellent steward of the Breuer building, and the prospect that the building would serve The Frick Collection in such a creative fashion is very exciting."
The move would also mean the Met could ease a $18 million annual financial burden while focusing increasing programming and infrastructure at its Fifth Avenue building for modern and contemporary art.
The Met began programming the Marcel Breuer-designed building on Madison Avenue in 2016 after a deal was struck with the Whitney to take over the building after their move in 2015 into a new building located downtown in the Meatpacking District. Since then, The MET has focused its shows at the Met Breuer on modern and contemporary art in exhibitions that contextualize its vast art collection or by presenting multi-floor solo shows of under recognized artists.
Themed group shows have included “Like Life: Sculpture, Color”; “Body (1300–Now)" and "Unfinished: Thoughts Left Visible.” Solo shows include works by Nasreen Mohamedi, Marisa Merz, Lygia Pape, Kerry James Marshall, and Jack Whitten, which is current on view through December 2, 2018.
When (and if) The MET vacates the Met Breuer, it will not abandon its commitment to presenting Modern and Contemporary art. Instead, they will presentations at its Fifth Avenue museum, the museum announced. This includes adding programming, rebuilding Modern and Contemporary galleries in the Lila Acheson Wallace Wing and the possible addition of sculpture commission for the facade of the Museum. Contemporary art installations presented in common areas is also part of the plan, according to the museum.
Met President and CEO Daniel H. Weiss stated, "Our objective in expanding our programming to The Met Breuer was to present the modern collection and other strengths of our encyclopedic holdings, and to enable our curators to organize cutting-edge exhibitions. We are extremely pleased with the visitor response and critical acclaim for these programs and look forward to building on what we have learned in the years ahead at The Met Fifth Avenue."
When The Frick has its chance to occupy the former Whitney Museum of Art's building, they will continue the MET's concept by mixing its Old Masters art collection with contemporary art said Wardropper, reported The New York Times.
The Frick Collection includes masterworks from the Renaissance through early modern period. Their holdings include work by Rembrandt, Renoir, Goya, Manet, Vermeer, van Rijn, Turner and many others. In April 2018, the museum announced Selldorf Architects received plans to upgrade and enhance its facilities. The renovation project is the first comprehensive upgrade to the Frick's building since they opened to the public, according to the museum.
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