Frick Collection Launches Website with "Virtual Tour"


New York's famed Frick Collection has recently opened its doors in a new way with the launching of a comprehensive site on the World Wide Web. Millions of Internet users now have access to this site at and can experience innovative features, such as a "virtual tour" of the galleries in the institution's Fifth Avenue mansion. The site, with its many interconnecting links, will keep the public updated on the - perhaps unexpected - array of changing exhibitions, educational programs, special events, membership offerings, and news about The Frick Collection and Frick Art Reference Library.

Information is available about most items in this internationally acclaimed collection, including its treasures by Bellini, Fragonard, Goya, El Greco, Holbein, Houdon, Rembrandt, Titian, Velazquez, Vermeer, Veronese, Whistler, and other masters. Of tremendous importance to students, art historians, journalists, collectors, dealers, and others is the global access to the resources, online catalogue, and services ofthe Frick Art Reference Library, which is one the world's greatest research centers for the study of Western art.

Director Samuel Sachs II comments, "I am thrilled that many more 'visitors' world-wide can use the Internet as a tool to reach The Frick Collection and the research collections of the Library. In recent years the staff has avidly embraced the use of technology in their work and the logical outgrowth of this is computerized access for the public to the resources of this institution by means ofthe World Wide Web. I am a strong advocate for the application of technology in the museum environment and I have urged the staff to think expansively about the possibilities in this realm. The 'virtual museum' enables people to browse the galleries from home and will spark the imagination, better preparing visitors for an on-site experience. Those who cannot travel to The Frick Collection will gain a wonderful sense of the museum's stunning offerings and grand environment." In this spirit, Sachs offers a personal, audio greeting to users of the website. (left: Samuel Sachs II. Image courtesy of Frick Collection)



Through IPIX technology, (software by Interactive Pictures Corporation that produces spherical, interactive images), visitors to the website can wander through the 1914 former Frick mansion and focus on the masterpieces they choose in the West Gallery, the Boucher, Dining, Fragonard, and Oval Rooms, and the Living Hall. Similarly, extensive visuals and information is available about the sculpture and decorative art pieces in the collection. The virtual tour was created by photojournalist Bill Swersey, who shot the elegant interiors with a 180-degree panoramic, or fisheye, lens. The resulting images were aligned with IPIX "stitching" software that created 360-degree views of the featured rooms.

Instructions on the Frick's website help the visitor link to and download the necessary viewing software, which is free and located at the IPIX homepage ( Using a computer mouse to explore the mansion, the visitor can be virtually inside each room, and encounter many layers of information. "Hotspots" selected with the mouse link to art historical texts and larger images for each masterpiece. Items available through the Museum Shop, such as postcards, books, posters, and videos, can be ordered by e-mail as well as by telephone and fax.



Patricia Barnett, Andrew W. Mellon Librarian, who oversees the Frick Art Reference Library and text and image information services, notes, "The Library will continue to maintain primary sources and scholarly documents on-site, but the visibility and enhanced access that the website provides will enable a far wider community of researchers to consult these materials." The website is linked to FRESCO, the Frick Research Catalog Online. Established in 1996, FRESCO records over 50,000 source materials catalogued since 1985, which are accessible through the Library, and is a convenient tool for scholars and students alike. An online form is available for website users to submit reference questions to the Library staff.

Additional search features and selected links to outside sites and databases are among the other offerings. "This unusual website is much more than an electronic brochure, as it balances visual elegance with the provision of substantial resources," adds Floyd Sweeting, the Head of the Information Systems Department.

The consultant for the site's original design concept was Donald G. Dunham, a web developer who is currently doing graduate work at New York University' s Interactive Telecommunications Program. The Information Systems Office of The Frick Collection was responsible for initiating and coordinating the development ofthe site, and Webmaster Vivian Gill is responsible for its enhancement and maintenance. A steering committee representing all parts of the Collection and Library developed the content.

Please click on thumbnail image bordered by a red line to see enlargement.

This page was originally published 9/16/98 in Resource Library Magazine. Please see Resource Library's Overview section for more information. rev. 11/28/11

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