Ground was broken Thursday at the Frick Art and Historical Center in Point Breeze as part of a $15 million renovation and expansion project.
Phase one includes a 3,000-square-foot Orientation Center meant to enhance the visitor experience. The center will provide a more welcoming environment and will teach visitors about the Frick family, what life was like in Pittsburgh at the end of the 19th century and will show everything the museum has to offer.
Joel Bernard, chairman of the building and grounds committee, said the addition will cut down on confusion and properly welcome visitors.
“The new Orientation Center will be right off the parking lot,” Bernard said. “They’ll come in there, they’ll be able to get all the information they need and they’ll be able to be directed and get a comprehensive overview of the site before they even go out on a tour.”
The center will be using the latest education technology to teach users about the grounds, including touch screen tables referred to by Bernard as “oversized iPads.”
The center will also house a museum gift shop, freeing up room at the Children’s Playhouse, which currently serves as a welcome center.
The building will be primarily glass, allowing visitors to take in the Frick’s green surroundings.
Bill Bodine, director of the Frick Art and Historical Center, said the renovations won’t take away from the beauty.
“We have been incredibly careful with how we add to this site because we want to maintain the natural environment here in our 5 ½ acres of grounds and preserve what people love about the Frick,” Bodine said.
Phases two and three of the expansion will include an education center where the Car and Carriage Museum currently sits, and a community center will provide space for education programs and event rentals.
The Frick Art Museum was built by Helen Clay Frick in 1969 to display collections of European paintings and sculptures from the 13th to 18th centuries, as well as cars, carriages and other historical objects from the Frick family.
The Orientation Center is scheduled to open in summer 2014.