Member Spotlight: The Frick Collection

The Frick Collection has long been established as one of the most important and compelling art museums in the world, visited by approximately 275,000 people a year.  In addition to holdings that include both an historically significant mansion and many priceless art masterpieces, the Frick Collection is also the home of an internationally recognized center for research and study of art, The Frick Art Reference Library. Founded in 1920 by Helen Clay Frick in honor of her father, Henry Clay Frick, the library is dedicated to serving “adults with a serious interest in art,” including scholars, art professionals, collectors, and students.   From its inception, the library has remained free and open to the public.
 
20140424_FrickArtReferenceLibrary.jpgThe book and photograph research collections at the Frick Art Reference Library relate chiefly to paintings, drawings, sculpture, and prints from the fourth to the mid-twentieth centuries by European and North American artists. The Library’s collections of approximately 300,000 books, 86,000 auction catalogs, and more than one million photographs are complemented by a large collection of microforms and a growing number of electronic resources. In addition, the Library is a repository for archives and special collections documenting the history of art and collecting in America.
 
The primary collection strengths of the Library include: text and image documents about works of art, their history, provenance, and patronage;  materials on collections, exhibitions, and sales; catalogues raisonnés and other research tools that aid in the identification of artists, attributions, portraits, iconography, technical analysis, and location of works of art and their reproductions. Materials on art historiography and theory are also collected. The library is a global leader in research and resources related to art collecting and patronage.
 
The Frick Art Reference Library is one of the founding members, in 2006, of NYARC, the New York Art Resources Consortium.  NYARC was established to facilitate collaborative work between four leading art museums of New York.  One product of this partnership has been the shared library system called Arcade; Arcade is the library’s online catalog as well as a discovery tool for collections beyond those at The Frick.
 
In February 2010 The Frick Collection announced the appointment of Dr. Stephen J. Bury to the post of Andrew W. Mellon Chief Librarian.  Formerly Deputy Director and Head of European and American Collections at the British Library, Dr. Bury is both a leading art historian and an internationally regarded librarian.  At the British Library and now at the Frick, he has initiated and advanced many important programs in digitization, collection sharing, and the use of new technologies to continually help these library organizations to strengthen and advance their missions in the modern age.
 
According to Dr. Bury, “The Frick Art Reference Library is internationally well-regarded, not just for its rich resources, but for the very proactive approach the institution has taken in light of the changing universe of libraries and the needs of the audiences they serve.”
 
Earlier this year METRO announced that eight institutions in New York City and Westchester were named recipients of 2010 Digital Metro New York (DMNY) grants.  This unique grant program supports collaborative digitization projects designed to expand access to important collections of historical and rare materials.   One of the programs supported by this effort will bring historical and cultural materials from one of the most dynamic eras in New York history to more researchers and art lovers around the world.  The digitization project, “Documenting the Gilded Age: New York City Exhibitions at the Turn of the 20th Century,” isunderway at the Frick Art Reference Library in collaboration with its NYARC partner The Brooklyn Museum.
 
"Documenting the Gilded Age: New York City Exhibitions at the Turn of the 20th Century" involves the digitization of a wide range of materials including ephemeral exhibition checklists, pamphlets, and catalogs from 11 historically significant galleries, society clubs, and arts associations operating in the late 19th to early 20th century. The collection illuminates the role these institutions played in cultivating artistic movements and in the work of many notable European and American artists. These materials have significance to scholars from a number of disciplines, and this digitization effort will enhance both access to, and preservation of, these important materials.
 
About the Digital METRO New York Program
 
Over the last five years, METRO’s Digital METRO New York program has distributed over $385,000 to help fund more than 40 projects at more than 28 METRO member institutions. Managed by METRO, Digital METRO New York supports the implementation of digitization projects among METRO member libraries and archives. METRO lends vital additional support for digitization projects through specialized education and training programs and opportunities for “digitally ready” libraries to share expertise and best-practice digitization strategies.  METRO’s digitization program is supported by funds from the New York State Regional Bibliographic Database Program.
Jason Kucsma
(212) 228-2320
Author: Jason Kucsma
Phone: (212) 228-2320
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