The Met Breuer. Image courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum.
It was announced Friday that the Met Museum would lease the Breuer building to the Frick, the New York Times reports. According to an agreement between the two venerable art institutions, the Metropolitan Museum of Art will likely sign the Met Breuer on Madison Avenue over to the Frick Collection beginning in 2020. Doing so would allow the in-debt Met to free itself of the last three years of an eight-year lease and an $18 million annual expense and enable it to put funds toward improving the modern and contemporary galleries at its Fifth Avenue flagship. Likewise, the Frick would have a suitable temporary home while the Gilded Age mansion that it inhabits is being renovated.
Image courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum.
According to the agreement, it’s certainly a very New York City property deal: The Met will retain financial responsibility for the Breuer–which belongs to the Whitney Museum of American Art, who decamped for the Meatpacking District–in what will add up to a sublet situation for the Frick. The arrangement will reportedly save the Met a about $45 million.
The move will likely be a sign for critics of the Met’s original Breuer deal that that arrangement was bad idea in the first place, adding to the museum’s financial burden with a significant investment in upgrading the building’s restaurant. But the Met feels the move is a logical next step in its plan to utilize the Breuer building as a temporary exhibition space for modern and contemporary art as well as exhibiting more of it at its Fifth Avenue flagship. Daniel Weiss, the Met’s president and chief executive, said, “Our future is in the main building.”
Henry C. Frick House. Image via Wiki Commons.
The Frick’s director, Ian Wardropper, said the museum would use the Breuer as an opportunity to add a sprinkling of comtemporary works on loan to its Old Masters collection: “It gives us a chance to think ahead when it comes to reinstalling the collection.”
The Met announced that it will be moving ahead with planned Fifth Avenue renovations, albeit with a slightly more budget-conscious design by architect David Chipperfield than the one previously proposed. The revamp will likely set the museum back just under $500 million rather than the earlier figure of about $600 million.
On the other side of the table, the deal will allow the Frick to continue to offer public access to its own collections and exhibitions while its East 70th Street home base is undergoing renovations. Wardropper said, “If we’re closed for two-plus years, what happens to our visitorship, our membership, do people forget about us? Here, we’ll be able to stay open almost seamlessly.”
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