Events December 2023

Marcel Breuer’s Whitney Museum of American Art building as Frick Madison. Photo: Joe Coscia Jr.
Marcel Breuer in the Whitney Museum of American Art, 1964. Marcel Breuer papers, 1920-1986, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. Photo: Marc and Evelyn Bernheim
Frick Madison gallery space. Photo: Joe Coscia Jr.

Frick Madison Farewell Tour

December 5, 2023

Join DOCOMOMO US/New York Tri-State for a special private farewell tour of Marcel Breuer and Hamilton Smith’s iconic Upper East Side building, originally built as the Whitney Museum of American Art, during its last days in use as an art museum. Its current occupant, Frick Madison, will close March 3, 2024, fifty seven years after Breuer’s best known building first opened to the public in fall of 1966. Purchased by Sotheby’s, its next use will be as an auction house.

After the Whitney moved to the Meatpacking District, the Metropolitan Museum commissioned Beyer Blinder Belle to design a respectful restoration, which “burnished” the original structure to serve as the Met Breuer. Upon completion, the building looked better than it had in years. Among other accolades, the restoration received a 2016 DOCOMOMO Modernism in America Award.

Following the Met’s departure in 2020, in March of 2021, The Frick Collection opened a temporary installation of highlights from its exceptional collection in the space during the restoration of its historic complex. That installation, Frick Madison, was designed by Stephen Saitas with Annabelle Selldorf.

This private tour, when the museum is closed to the public, will examine the building’s history and consider how it has been adapted to meet the needs of two prominent museums since the Whitney Museum moved out. Eminent architectural historian Barry Bergdoll, who has written on Breuer, will address the original design. Architect Carolyn Straub, now Associate Director for Capital Projects at The Frick Collection, was part of the Beyer Blinder Belle team for the restoration and she will discuss that project. Exhibition designer Stephen Saitas will explain how he and his collaborators chose to display The Frick Collection’s masterworks in a very different environment from their longtime home.

Barry Bergdoll is Meyer Schapiro Professor of Art History at Columbia University, where he has taught since 1985. From 2007 to 2013 he was Philip Johnson Chief Curator of Architecture and Design at the Museum of Modern Art. Exhibitions he curated at MoMA included “Bauhaus 1919-1933: Workshops for Modernity” in 2009-2010. He was co-editor of the book Marcel Breuer: Building Global Institutions, published in 2018. On the occasion of the inauguration of the Met Breuer, Bergdoll wrote “Marcel Breuer, Bauhaus Tradition, Brutalist Invention,” for the Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, Summer 2016.

Carolyn Straub, AIA, LEED AP, joined The Frick Collection as its Associate Director for Capital Projects in 2017 and is responsible for managing its major renovation and enhancement project, the most comprehensive upgrade in the museum’s 85-year history. She earned her undergraduate degree in Architecture with honors from Princeton University and her Masters in Architecture with honors from Harvard’s Graduate School of Design.

Before joining The Frick Collection, Carolyn was an Associate Partner at Beyer Blinder Belle Architects where she specialized in institutional and museum planning, renovation, and new construction projects. Major projects included The Metropolitan Museum of Art Master Plan, Met Breuer, Toledo Museum of Art Master Plan, Red Star Line Museum in Antwerp, Belgium, Muhammad Ali Center in Louisville, KY, and the High Line Maintenance & Operations Facility. 

Stephen Saitas is Principal of Stephen Saitas Designs (SSD). The studio provides exhibition design for permanent collection galleries and temporary or travelling exhibitions. SSD has completed over 300 projects in more than 50 institutions, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Frick Collection, the Morgan Library & Museum; New York Public Library; Yale Center for British Art; Rhode Island School of Design Museum; Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum; Denver Art Museum; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; and the Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens. SSD was the exhibition designer for Frick Madison, in collaboration with the Frick curatorial team and Selldorf Architects.

Tuesday December 5, 4:30 – 5:45pm
Frick Madison
30 East 75th Street (side entrance)

$50 DOCOMOMO Members / $70 General Public

Advance Registration Required. Space is limited to 25 guests.