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Ian Wardropper, the director of New York’s Frick Collection, announced that he would retire next year after 14 years with the museum.
Most notably during Wardropper’s tenure, the Frick embarked upon an ambitious—and at timescontroversial—$195m renovation of its home at the Beaux Arts mansion of the 19th-century industrialist and art collector Henry Clay Frick. (As a result, since March 2021 the Frick has temporarily relocated to the Breuer Building, the former site of the Whitney Museum of American )Art that was recently bought by Sotheby’s. Wardropper will retire shortly after the official reopening of the new Frick, which is scheduled for late this year.
“These 14 years at the Frick will have been among the most rewarding of my career,” Wardropper said in a statement. “It has been a great privilege to realise these initiatives during my tenure, the reopening of our upgraded buildings being a highlight among many. Following my retirement from the Frick, I look forward to working on a number of scholarly and academic projects.”
Wardropper has spent a total of 50 years working at museums. He was the chair of European sculpture and decorative arts at the Metropolitan Museum of Art before joining the Frick in 2011. Previously, he had been the curator of European decorative arts, sculpture and ancient art at the Art Institute of Chicago.
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Apart from spearheading the Frick’s first-ever comprehensive renovation, Wardropper is often cited as having expanded the purview of the museum to beyond its founder’s collection of Old Master paintings and European decorative art. This included inviting the works of contemporary artists into the museum’s historic spaces. The Frick’s widely lauded Barkley L. Hendricks show is the latest example of the museum’s new embrace of contemporary art—Hendricks is the first artist of colour to have a solo show at the Frick since the museum’s inception in 1935.
“My goal is to leave the institution in good shape programmatically and financially, and that will be the case,” Wardropper told Robin Pogrebin of The New York Times. “I’m hoping I can turn it over to somebody with fresh ideas.” He added that even though the museum’s board of directors is conducting an international search for his replacement, he hopes that the Frick’s deputy director and chief curator, Xavier F. Salomon, “will be one of the candidates”.