The Frick mansion was designed by Carrere and Hastings, the same architects who worked on the New York Public Library, and was built to "make Carnegie's place look like a miner's shack." Preserved on Millionaire's Row, the mansion is a grand setting for an incredible collection of European painting and decorative arts. The enclosed inner courtyard is a perfect place for weary art lovers to take a rest.
The Frick Collection is located in the former mansion of Mr. Frick, whose private art collection was made into a museum after his death in the early twentieth century; the museum is designed to feel more like a private home than a public place. The mansion is a true work of art; the low stone building and courtyard take up almost an entire city block and statues stand prominently by the entranceway. Some of the rooms of the house have painted walls like the frescoes of a Renaissance church or castle, and the furniture that adorns all the rooms of the house is almost entirely from the sixteenth century. All the other rooms have rich wood walls and floors, marble fireplaces and decorative columns, giving visitors the sense of being in an old, musty castle or cathedral. It seems impossible that people actually lived here, but they did.
You'll see nothing more recent than 1880's French Impressionism here; most of the work is at least a century older than that, with one piece that is nearly seven hundred years old! Finding your way around can be complicated because the house has several small, out-of-the-way rooms that were incorporated into the museum. Take advantage of the free self-guided audio tours. Many of the paintings and sculptures have numbers posted next to them; you just punch a number into the audio player, a message, recorded by an art expert, explains the work's stylistic elements, historical context and gives the artist's biography. It's a simple and enjoyable way to tour the museum.
A visit to the Frick should take two or three hours, but if you want to get to every piece on the audio tour, your visit could take four hours or more. The Frick Collection is a museum that would appeal mostly to fans of classic sixteenth to eighteenth century European art. It is not recommended for kids.