Littler but Awesome(r) NYC Museums: the Frick and Neue Galerie

The lovely courtyard at the Frick (photo credit:
The lovely courtyard at the Frick (photo credit:

The Frick and the Neue Galerie (Neue is not pronounced like the word “New,” which I thought was right for a loooong time, but rather “Noy-uh.” German pronunciation is a bit tricky) are not really marquee NYC museums, but they are WONDERFUL adult respites after the nuttiness of the Met, the Natural History Museum, or MoMA. And why do I say they’re for adults? Because children under the age of 12 are not allowed in the Neue, while children under 10 are not allowed in the Frick. While parents of younger kiddos might be frustrated/annoyed/feel slighted by this policy, the rest of us appreciate it, because, let’s be honest: sometimes when you’re a grown-up wanting to drop $20 (again with the steep admissions prices! Though they both do have free days) on an art museum visit, you want to do it in the company of other grown-ups only.

Egon Schiele is not for kids. (photo credit:
Egon Schiele is not for kids. (photo credit:

Now, don’t get me wrong: children should absolutely go to art museums. They should be exposed to culture, confront objects and images from other countries and times, and learn to appreciate the beauty, brutality, and truths to be taught by art of all kinds. But sometimes, just sometimes, I would rather they not do that right next to me. Because (and I back up this statement with over 5 years experience teaching in pre-schools and almost two years as a nanny) kids are loud and while all of them are precious angels, that does not mean I (and other adults) want to deal with their preciously angelic loudness while appreciating a graphic Egon Schiele drawing (at the Neue) or flirty Fragonard paintings (at the Frick). So! If you’re a grown-up and inclined to look at art around other grown-ups, the Neue is the place for late 19th, early 20th century Austrian and German awesome weirdness, while the Frick will hook you up with a jewel-box little collection of Old Masters and general pan-European Medieval-Renaissance-Baroque fun times. And it will be quiet and civilized. Also the cafe and restaurant at the Neue are aces (if spendy. Sigh. NYC you’re always spendy). Good job littler museums, good job.

Also not really for kids, the Fragonard Room at the Frick. (Photo credit:
Also not really for kids, the Fragonard Room at the Frick. (Photo credit:

8 thoughts on “Littler but Awesome(r) NYC Museums: the Frick and Neue Galerie

  1. I love that you are showing the little spaces where the rare art jewels are housed. Going to the biggest or the most pretentious gallery does not guarantee seeing the most provocative art.

    In Winnipeg we have the WAG (Winnipeg art gallery) and a few smaller local galleries. The good thing about the WAG though it’s the oldest gallery in Canada at 100 years old, and constantly refreshes it’s traveling exhibits. I’ve seen Rodan, Dali plus countless other masters have through the exhibit space.

    1. As great as the encyclopedic museums (like the Met) can be, I genuinely tend to prefer the littler ones. They’re more intimate and you can really get into the art in better ways. The Winnipeg Art Gallery sounds great. I really ought to travel in Canada a bit more– I’ve been to Toronto and Montreal, but there are a ton of other worthy places, I’m sure!

  2. Love love love the Frick, it is a hidden Gem that kept me interested for the duration of my visit there. Museums like the Met are a must see obviously however for me personally I get bored quite easily and such museums are just too big. It becomes a drag and I will decide to go to the museumshop then immediately and skip the rest. I know i know more my problem over theirs but it is the reason I like the smaller ones better then the big. Visisted the Guggenheim already? I had a really bad experience there !

    1. It actually IS the Met’s problem that they’re too big and that people get bored there! A better/different lay-out, more places to rest/re-charge (with cheaper/better snacks) and a fresher approach would make it more accessible to all. I disagree that it’s a “must-see” though. I don’t think there’s anything that is a “must-see” for everybody on earth. It’s only a must-see if you’re interested in encyclopedic art museums. The notion of a place being a “must-see” is actually really damaging for the place– it gets swarmed, can’t handle the crowds and the experience gets worse– and for the visitors– if an individual doesn’t really care/isn’t really interested in art, then there’s no reason for them to go to an art museum. Yes travel is for expanding horizons, but I don’t think it should be about boxes to tick off of a universal list.

      ANYWAYS, yes I have been to the Guggenheim, I posted about it last week. I’m not the biggest fan. What made your experience there bad?

      1. Well said in regards to the “must see” as this is exactly what happens with the Met. If you havent seen it people will comment on it. Sorry i missed the blog about Guggenheim, must have been running around crazy preparing for my China adventure. Will have to read back. The Guggenheim, well what can I say! It is already about 8 years ago that I visited or at least when the Russia exhibition was being installed. When we entered we were told there was a fare reduction because 3 of the rings would not be open to the public. Fair, they inform me they reduce the price it is my choice to go in or not. We decided since my friends were leaving the next day to go in. While we were at on of the still open rings they hushed us away as they ended up closing also the remainder of the rings. This left all of its visitors in the building housing the permanent collection and caused for a very unpleasant experience trying the watch and take in the art. Too many people hoovering over a piece of art. When i complained (and believe me I dont tend to complain) the answer was we informed you about the reduction in rings and price! When i asked if they had a visitor cap the answer was, here is a form you can log your complaint. Never heard a thing, and never went back. Only positive for me was the architecture of the buidling which i could only enjoy a limited time.

      2. China adventure?! Sounds exciting! I’ve heard other people with similar complaints about the Guggenheim and something almost identical happened to me at the Whitney (which I’m not reviewing on the blog, but is still *generally* a worthy institution). Sometimes I don’t get the policies at these museums. Don’t they want people to come see the art? Don’t they want people to be excited and inspired and want to learn more??? I just don’t get it.

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