Offbeat New York - The Frick Collection

An industrialist and patron of art bought a doomed library in the heart of New York to build an adobe where he can live in peace surrounded by classic ageless art that froze time around them.

Fast forward to 2017
I wandered around the ornate rooms of a small museum, which was once a mansion, listening to facts about a prized collection of an industrialist!

I am talking about one of the lesser known museums of New York – The Frick’s Collection. Located on the Fifth Ave, Upper East Side, right next to central park, stands this beautiful house of Henry Clay Frick which has been a public library since 1930! Overshadowed by fame of the Met, which is close by, people don’t really know much about the Frick Collection but it sure is a paradise for any art lover for so many reasons.

Henry Clay Frick was a pioneer of art and often collected art pieces from a specific collection or era to build his own collection. Back in the time, Frick moved into this mansion knowing that he wanted to inculcate the love for art, that he had, in people. Hence, he wanted to build his house in a way that not only will he be able to freeze time in some sense while walking in the corridors of his mansion, but also engage people in conversation with art when they see his collection. And thus, in his will he had made his house a public library, that is run till date!

The Frick collection is a collection of some of the well-known paintings by major European Artists, as well as numerous sculpture, astronomical clocks and porcelain. Some rooms also have exquisite 18th century French furniture and rugs on display that tell you of the taste of luxury and appreciation of unique carpentry Frick had After Frick's death. The Frick Collection also has contributions from Frick’s his daughter, Helen Clay Frick, expanded the collection majorly with paintings and made the place what it is today.

For me however, the paintings were not the focus. I was spellbound by the mechanism behind every clock that was present in the last 4 rooms and by a small French writing table that was meant for Frick’s wife. Wondering if I read all the information like a nerd? Wrong! You get a very efficient audio guide in Frick’s museum to tell you about every small piece in the collection.

Apart from the art collection, the architecture of the building itself is pretty stunning. The library building that Frick bought (which stood where the museum is today) was built in Neo-Greek style, which was torn down to make way for Thomas Hastings’ Beaux-Arts architecture vision for the Frick’s residence. But even the new structure incorporated some elements of the old building like the fa├žade and the central courtyard (the only place you can click photos in) thus keeping both the old and the new together.

Today, the place not only keeps the old-school art collection but also promotes new musicians and writers by giving out the place for small concerts and book reading sessions. After all, they are a form of art too right. I know, the place might sound very bookish, but you need to be there, explore the house, feel the vibe and get lost in the paintings to understand the spell this place can cast on anyone. And given that the place is small, doable, not noisy at all, usually has music or talk sessions and is super close to Central park is reason to visit, right?

This was my forth time in a museum that was previously someone's residence, and I thoroughly enjoyed my visit. Have you ever visited a similar museum? How was your experience? Let me know in the comments below!

P.S. How and when to get there:
Frick’s museum is about 1.5 miles away from the Grand Central Terminal and the best way to get there is by taking a bus. The place is open from 10 AM to 6 PM on all days except Mondays. It is closed on Mondays and on most Fridays the place is open till 9 PM. However, the best day of the week to visit Frick’s is Wednesdays, from 2-6 PM when you can pay as you wish. Apart from that any event at Frick’s is worth visiting.


  1. It is good to see the mansions getting converted to museums. The interiors are grand. Interesting info about the clocks.

  2. Wonderful architecture, beautifully captured by you Vish! :)

  3. Thats a beautiful place, really great to see that this once doomed library shines now with all these treasures. To be honest, I never heard of this place so far but this is a very good inspiration for a next New York Trip. I adore all those sculptures and ornaments, so much love to detail.

  4. Clock making is pretty amazing stuff. I remember touring Monticello (does that count a residence turned into a museum?) and being amazed at the design of the water clock. It's pretty dang cool what people can use to tell time.

  5. Such a lovely museum and a shame that it is not that famous

  6. What a lovely looking museum and glad to see they renovated an old building and not just built a new one. It is so nice to read a post about some other than the popular attractions in New York. I love history and I would definitely visit here next time, I am in the city.

  7. The museum looks like a nice place to get an insight into the history and life of Henry Clay Frick. Lending the place to new musicians for their concerts and encouraging their work is a great initiation. We would love to visit the museum and explore these gems ourselves.

  8. I've never even heard of the Frick Collection! Of course, museums are simply wonderful places to get lost in. I love that they not only have amazing historical pieces, but cater to promote a newer crowd of artisans!

  9. Quite interesting to know the vision of Mr Frick’. I loved the way the mansion was converted into a museum. His love for art and antiques are quite visible through his collection.

  10. What a lovely way to show your appreciation of art. Such a beautiful mansion too! Looks like a great place to escape the hustle and bustle of the city.

  11. Hi, extremely nice effort. everybody should scan this text. Thanks for sharing.


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