Trustees committee votes to expand use of Frick donation

A donation of $247,920 from Helen Clay Frick to Pitt in 1937 has been used for several arts-related endeavors at the University over the years and now will be used to support a graduate assistant to curate and make accessible materials of the Fine Arts Library.

The Board of Trustees Budget committee voted on Feb. 16 to expand the board-designated restrictions on the funds to include general use for the Fine Arts Library.

When Frick, daughter of steel magnate Henry Clay Frick, gave the money to Pitt, she said the money could be used at the University’s discretion. Then in 1953, Pitt Chancellor R.H. Fitzgerald authorized using the donation for the Department of Fine Arts to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the department and because of Helen Clay Frick’s affinity for fine arts.

The board, through its Investment Committee, in 1972 voted to put the money in the Helen Clay Frick Quasi-Endowment Fund to be used by the Department of Fine Arts to purchase books, photographs, etc. for the Fine Arts Library, now housed in the Frick Fine Arts Building. Helen Clay Frick also financed the building and closely oversaw its construction. It is named in honor of her father.

The board committee took the action to expand use of the fund last week because “the University no longer needs fine arts collections development,” according to the approved resolution.

Helen Clay Frick’s long association with Pitt ended in 1965, when she clashed with the University over its management of the Department of Fine Arts, which she established and financed for 40 years, according to the Post-Gazette. It was one of the first academic programs for the study of fine arts at a major university.

After her dispute with Pitt, Frick removed her artworks from the University and built another museum to house her extensive art collection on the property of her Point Breeze home, Clayton. Frick died in 1984.

— Susan Jones


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