It’s a huge week for Robin Nicholson, director of The Frick Pittsburgh, as the Point Breeze destination is set to complete a $15 million expansion project. Find out why this native of Edinburgh, Scotland—who previously worked as Deputy Director for Art and Education and Head of Exhibitions at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts—is embracing his new hometown.
Monday, October 26
Today I will participate in a Board Development Workshop led by the Pennsylvania Association of Nonprofit Organizations. It is being held at Old Economy Village. What a surprising place it is—like a piece of Hogwarts—with a history of hidden treasure, secret doors and alchemical rites in the cellars.
Back to the Frick in time for a 4 p.m. Strategic Task Force meeting. The Frick is a young institution—just 25 years old. It is an exciting time to be charting the course of the museum for the next five years and beyond. Somewhere I read that if you had to be running an arts nonprofit, there are few better places in America right now than Pittsburgh. I agree.
I won’t be home until 7 p.m., so my fiancée, Dianne, and I will probably grab a bite at one of the many restaurants a short walk down the hill from where we live in Shadyside—Paris 66 or Plum.
Tuesday, October 27
I will head to the cool Mini dealership on Baum to get my little racing green Mini ready for the winter. When I moved to Pittsburgh, I was amazed to see how many Minis there are here; it is like they are breeding. Then on to lunch with a collector and possible future board member at The Commoner—a restaurant I have been meaning to try since it opened. It is a part of the Hotel Monaco and I recommend visitors to the Frick to stay here. Dianne and I loved the DC Monaco, especially the option of having a goldfish in your room. I need to check if the Pittsburgh version offers this!
I’ll finish the day with a workout at LA Fitness in Bakery Square—surely the most hipster gym in Pittsburgh? Our personal trainer, Ross, is the best.
Wednesday, October 28
The day starts with the weekly coffee morning for my staff with Zeke’s Coffee—we are working our way through all their varieties. The coffee is much needed—everyone is exhausted with the race to complete our new spaces—education and community centers and expanded Car and Carriage Museum. We have added almost 30% of new buildings to the Frick; it is like a new wing.
Lunch will be sandwiches from Five Points Artisan Bakeshop—the best baguette in town: chewy, tasty, salty. Then an afternoon planning meeting for our fabulous exhibition next year Killer Heels: The Art of the High-Heeled Shoe. I can now pronounce Christian Louboutin effortlessly.
I’ll cook at home this evening. I’m experimenting with salt and I was delighted to discover Steel City Salt Co. selling intriguing varieties right here in the Burgh. It has to be the least appreciated of all condiments.
Thursday, October 29
Today is a huge day in the history of the Frick. I will be overseeing the finishing touches for the grand opening celebration of the completion of the Frick expansion. Rania’s Catering will be as fabulous as ever and we’ll have a brand new tent from PartySavvy. The whole site will glow with new lighting as dusk falls, guests arrive, and we anxiously await the arrival of Mayor Peduto to help us cut the ribbon. Don’t miss the public opening celebration on Saturday, November 21st.
We’ll be taking out-of-town guests to Spoon after the reception—always a memorable experience.
Friday, October 30
Coffee fuels my life and I just discovered ReAnimator Coffee from Philly, sold at Whole Foods in East Liberty. I grind it by hand and it is totally delicious. Soon after I get to my desk at the Frick I will be conference calling NYC for a meeting of the American Federation of Arts‘ Exhibition Committee, reviewing ideas for exhibitions that will be traveling to U.S. museums in 2018 and beyond. Matisse drawings? Folk art? European masterpieces? In art museums, exhibitions usually have at least three-year lead times. It can be a long wait.
Saturday, October 31
I’ll meet some friends Dianne has brought to the Frick for an early lunch at The Café and then I will give them a tour of the Chris Antemann exhibition.
Then a relaxing Saturday afternoon after a long week, browsing my favorite local stores. Penhollows on South Highland Avenue for great photography books and vintage cutlery and Boxwood on Centre Avenue, the only store in the entire Commonwealth that stocks Cire Trudon scented candles, made in France since 1643. Then to Henne Jewelers to try on rings. (Soon after arriving in town, I learned that Henne is an essential Pittsburgh rite of passage—and their service is second to none).
An evening special treat will be dinner at The Twisted Frenchman. I am a sucker for high-tech gastronomy and Andrew Garbarino is doing some fascinating things.
Sunday, November 1
I always check the weather first thing on Sunday to see if it is a good day for photography–the one day I have time to indulge my hobby, although I always have my iPhone at hand wherever I am. I may head downtown for some river or architecture shots, or walk up to Mellon Park, or drive over to Frick Park. I just launched my own photography site: www.nicholsonphotography.org.
Then to Homestead for brunch at Bravo, where you can sit (outside in summer) and admire the magnificent row of chimneys, left behind as a remnant of the site’s industrial past. I applaud whoever determined these should be preserved. They offer a powerful reminder of Pittsburgh’s storied past and the opportunity to contemplate the mixed and still contentious legacy of Henry Clay Frick.