Survey of Arts Management

Course blog for American University PERF-570, Fall 2014

To Expand, or Not To Expand?

As we discussed before Andrew’s trip to Taiwan, growing can have a rather significant impact on an organization. At times it could make or break it. The Frick Collection is going through such a debate now and its former director and the people of New York seem to be upset at the thought of expanding the Frick.

The article outlines the expansion plans as well as the arguments for both sides. The expansion plans are to remove the Russell Page garden next to the house that was designed to be a permanent (in some words) public garden between the Frick Collection housed in the mansion and the Library. The new mansion that would fill the space would be a 6 six story building increasing their permanent collection space by 24% and their temporary exhibition space by half.

The current and former director have strongly opposing views on the purpose of the garden, the intimacy of the space and the impact this change will have, and the necessity of this expansion. The former director, Everett Fahy, believes that the Frick is meant to stay as a house museum and that the current expansion plans will and should be rejected by the Landmarks Commission. Current Director, Ian Wardropper, believes that change leads to a bit of chaos and outrage, but he is guaranteeing that these changes will not disrupt the overall mission and essence of the Frick Collection.

One of the final arguments of this article comes from Michael Kimmelman from the New York Times. He wonders why the Collection is not expanding into the neighboring Library allowing them to keep the garden. The Internet is the dominating option for research these days so the Library is likely less frequented. Kimmelman brings up an excellent point: Can the Libary be downsized and have its space repurposed into temporary exhibition space? If Wardropper wants expansion so badly, perhaps he can devise a bold bridge between the spaces. Is there a compromise out there that allows the Frick to stay intimate and reflective of its original mission while still expanding to respond to a internal desire to evolve/grow?

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2 comments on “To Expand, or Not To Expand?

  1. Jenni
    November 14, 2014

    This is an interesting proposition. I think that in order to quell the fears, they should really consider repurposing part of the library and digitizing some of their offerings. It sounds like this would be the most amenable option for all those involved.

    I think it’s a really interesting case study of how to expand with limited space in a way that can make at least a few parties happy.

  2. zeniasimpson
    November 17, 2014

    I was looking at this expansion too, and it reminded me of The Advantage and other conversations we’ve had this semester where we need organizations need to focus on their mission and why people come through their doors in the first place. Also, it reminds me of this study on how much museums have been expanding and where in the world on Artnet http://news.artnet.com/art-world/whos-leading-the-museum-building-craze-165875.

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