A reader writes in support of the East Side museum's proposed plans
By Ian Alterman, Upper West Side
As a member of the West End Preservation Society, a former co-chair of the Community Board 7 Landmarks Committee, and a huge fan of the Frick, I have been watching with keen interest since news first broke of the Frick Collection's intention to expand, including the construction of a new building ("Another Museum Expansion, This Time At The Frick" and "A New Era For New York's Gilded Jewel," July 17). Personally, I fully support the plan.
The Frick is bursting at the seams: it is not just major exhibitions that lead to long waits; I have sometimes had to wait for an hour or more on a "normal" day. The museum has always had to "rotate" some works (many of which are kept on the currently off-limits second floor) since there is simply not enough gallery space on its single floor. And the proposed addition would not simply provide new, much-needed gallery space, it would also free up the space on the first floor currently used for entry, waiting, gift shop, etc.: a win-win. As for the small viewing garden on 70th Street, as noted in the article this was an afterthought, and not part of the original design (there were townhouses on that location until 1977). And while we all love gardens and green spaces, it has never been open to the public.
Setting aside that the proposed new building is actually quite tasteful, and in my opinion does not "intrude" very much (if at all) on the current building, its addition would be "offset" quite generously by allowing for the opening to the public of both the second floor of the current building and the 5th Avenue gardens.
There may be some "tweaking" to be done on the proposed plan, with respect to both the new building itself and other aspects of the plan. And that is what the public process is for. But I believe it would be a mistake to wholly prevent the Frick from expanding as it proposes, as the benefits far outweigh even the perceived problems, much less any real ones that may exist.
I would like to wish the Frick good luck in its expansion plans, and I personally look forward with great anticipation to seeing its new facilities.