Buffalo AKG Art Museum

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Buffalo AKG Art Museum
Albright-Knox Art Gallery 1.jpg
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EstablishedMay 31, 1905 (1905-05-31)
Location1285 Elmwood Avenue, Buffalo, New York
Coordinates42°55′57″N 78°52′32″W / 42.93245°N 78.87563°W / 42.93245; -78.87563Coordinates: 42°55′57″N 78°52′32″W / 42.93245°N 78.87563°W / 42.93245; -78.87563
TypeArt museum
DirectorJanne Sirén
Nearest parkingUnderground
Buffalo AKG Art Museum
Built1890–1905, 1962 (addition)
ArchitectAugustus Saint Gaudens, Edward Brodhead Green[1]
Architectural styleBeaux arts[1]
NRHP reference No.71000538[1]
Added to NRHPMay 27, 1971

The Buffalo AKG Art Museum, formerly known as the Albright–Knox Art Gallery, is an art museum at 1285 Elmwood Avenue, Buffalo, New York, in Delaware Park. As of September 2021 the museum's Elmwood Avenue campus is temporarily closed for construction. It hosted exhibitions and events at Albright-Knox Northland, a project space at 612 Northland Avenue in Buffalo’s Northland Corridor. The new museum is expected to open May 25, 2023.

The gallery is a major showplace for modern art and contemporary art. It is directly opposite Buffalo State College and the Burchfield Penney Art Center.


View from Elmwood Avenue

The parent organization of the Buffalo AKG Art Museum is the Buffalo Fine Arts Academy, founded in 1862, one of the oldest public arts institutions in the United States.[2] On January 15, 1900, Buffalo entrepreneur and philanthropist John J. Albright, a wealthy Buffalo industrialist, donated funds to the Academy to begin construction of an art gallery.[3] The building was designed by prominent local architect Edward Brodhead Green.[4] It was originally intended to be used as the Fine Arts Pavilion for the Pan-American Exposition in 1901, but delays in its construction caused it to remain uncompleted until 1905.[2] When it finally opened its doors on May 31, 1905, it was named the Albright Art Gallery.[2]

Clifton Hall, the third building on the museum's campus, was constructed in 1920 as the Buffalo Society of Natural Sciences. Today, Clifton Hall houses the F. Paul Norton and Frederic P. Norton Family Prints And Drawings Study Center, the AK Innovation Lab, working spaces for the Public Art Initiative, and staff offices.[5]

View from inside

In 1962, a new addition was made to the gallery through the contributions of Seymour H. Knox, Jr. and his family, and many other donors. At this time the museum was renamed the Albright–Knox Art Gallery. The new building was designed by Skidmore, Owings and Merrill architect Gordon Bunshaft, who is noted for the Lever House in New York City. The Buffalo AKG Art Museum is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

The museum first began discussing a possible expansion in 2001. In 2012, the board commissioned the architectural firm Snøhetta to produce a master plan for future growth.[6] In 2014, the board voted to initiate a museum expansion and, in June 2016, the museum announced its selection of OMA partner Shohei Shigematsu as the architect for the project.[7] Doubleline CEO and Buffalo native Jeffrey Gundlach has pledged $42.5 million to the project, while businesses, foundations, government groups, and individuals have promised matching funds toward a $125 million goal.

The museum is part of the Monuments Men and Women Museum Network, launched in 2021 by the Monuments Men Foundation for the Preservation of Art.[8]


In 1910, the museum hosted the International Exhibition of Pictorial Photography (November 3–December 1, 1910), curated by Alfred Stieglitz. It was the first ever show organized by an American museum that aimed to elevate photography’s stature to that of a fine art.[9] In 1978, the museum's exhibition on the work of Richard Diebenkorn was chosen to represent the United States at the 28th Venice Biennale. In 1988, the museum again won the competition to organize the exhibition representing the United States in Venice; the museum's curator Michael G. Auping proposed media artist Jenny Holzer.[10]


The Buffalo AKG Art Museum has long operated not by collecting artists' work in depth but by trying to acquire key works.[11] The gallery's collection includes works spanning Impressionistic and Post-Impressionistic styles by artists of the nineteenth century such as Paul Gauguin, Edgar Degas, Berthe Morisot, Claude Monet, and Vincent van Gogh.

Revolutionary styles from the early twentieth century such as abstraction, cubism, surrealism, and constructivism are represented in works by artists like Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, Jean Metzinger, Albert Gleizes, Henri Matisse, André Derain, Joan Miró, Piet Mondrian, Giacomo Balla, Sonia Delaunay, Georgia O'Keeffe, Amedeo Modigliani, and Alexander Rodchenko. Frida Kahlo is represented by Self-Portrait with Monkey.

Because of Seymour H. Knox and Gordon M. Smith, a former director, the Albright-Knox was one of the first museums to collect Abstract Expressionism in depth.[12] That movement is widely represented in the collection with works by artists including Arshile Gorky, Jackson Pollock, Joan Mitchell, Franz Kline, Robert Motherwell, Adolph Gottlieb, and Helen Frankenthaler. The museum owns the second-largest collection of paintings by Clyfford Still: 33 abstract works that span the most critical developments of his career from 1937 to 1963. They include 31 paintings donated to the museum in 1964 by Still and two paintings acquired in 1957 and 1959 as gifts of Seymour H. Knox, Jr.[13]

Additionally, the gallery is rich in further examples of post-war American and European art.[14] Works of pop art, minimalism, and art of the 1970s through the end of the twentieth century can be found represented by artists such as Lee Bontecou, Chryssa, Alberto Giacometti, Eva Hesse, Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns, Howardena Pindell, Ed Clark, Kiki Smith, Félix González-Torres, and Andy Warhol.

At her death in 2016 pop artist Marisol left her estate to the museum including hundreds of works of art, making it the largest collection of her work in the world.[15]

Their contemporary collection includes pieces by artists such as Cory Arcangel, Tony Conrad, Mark Bradford, Nick Cave, Simone Leigh, Georg Baselitz, John Connell, and Per Kirkeby. The museum bought Anselm Kiefer's large-scale Die Milchstrasse (The Milkyway) (1985–1987) in 1988 to celebrate its 125th anniversary.[16]

Before its 2019-2023 expansion, The Buffalo AKG Art Museum exhibition space could accommodate only 200 works — just 3% of its 6,740-piece collection.[6]

Selected collection highlights[edit]


The Buffalo AKG Art Museum has more than 6,500 works in its collection, below is a list highlighting a few other notable works:[17]

Name Artist Year Notes
Hotel Lobby Max Beckmann 1950
Music and Literature William Michael Harnett 1878
La Maison de la Crau (The Old Mill) Vincent van Gogh 1888
La Jeune bonne (The Servant Girl) Amedeo Modigliani 1918
Self-Portrait with Monkey Frida Kahlo 1938
Nude Figure Pablo Picasso 1909-1910
La Toilette Pablo Picasso 1906
Chemin de haulage à argenteuil (tow path at argenteus) Claude Monet 1875
Convergence Jackson Pollock 1952
Icarus Richard Hunt 1956
Orange and Yellow Mark Rothko 1956
Winter Light Norman Carton 1956
Cow Andy Warhol 1976


The gallery contains a variety of sculptures on the exterior grounds. Some of the most notable, from the past and the present, include:

Name Artist Year Image
Alphabet Series Fletcher Benton N/A
Big Red James Rosati 1971
Bond Alexander Liberman 1969
Stainless Steel, Aluminum, Monochrome I, Built to Live Anywhere, at Home Here Nancy Rubins 2011
Cigarette Tony Smith 1961
Diamond I of III Antoni Milkowski 1967
Directional I Lyman Kipp 1962
Karma Do-Ho Suh 2010
E.C. Column Kenneth Snelson 1969–81
Flat Rate II Lyman Kipp 1969
Four Chances Kenneth Snelson 1982
Into the Blue Shayne Dark 2005
Laura Jaume Plensa 2012
Look and See Jim Hodges 2005
Shark Girl Casey Riordan Millard 2014
Stacked Revision Structure Liam Gillick 2005
The Cry Isamu Noguchi 1962
Turning the World Upside Down #4 Anish Kapoor 1998

Deaccessioning and the Albright-Knox's mission[edit]

In 2007, the Albright–Knox Art Gallery sold a Roman-era bronze sculpture, Artemis and the Stag, that was auctioned at Sotheby's New York on June 7, 2007, and brought $28.6 million.[18] This was the highest price ever paid at auction for an antiquity or a sculpture of any period, according to Sotheby's. It was purchased by the London dealer Giuseppe Eskenazi on behalf of a private European collector.[19]

The event brought national attention to what until then had been a local question, the mission of the Albright-Knox. In February 2007, when the list of works to be deaccessioned was made public, Albright-Knox Director Louis Grachos defined the ancient sculpture as falling outside the institution's historical "core mission" of "acquiring and exhibiting art of the present." This definition made public critics wonder whether the position at the Gallery of "William Hogarth's Lady's Last Stake or Sir Joshua Reynolds' Cupid as a Link Boy were secure. Works by Gustave Courbet, Honoré Daumier, Jacques-Louis David and Eugène Delacroix had been purchased by the museum in earlier decades.[20]

The decision to deaccession certain art works was made by a vote of the museum's Board of Directors, was voted on and ratified by the entire membership, and followed the guidelines of the American Alliance of Museums.[21] The sale raised questions about how museums can remain vital when they are situated in economically declining regions and have limited means for raising funds for operations and acquisitions.[22]


The gallery is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday. On the first Friday of each month, the gallery is open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. with free admission to the permanent collection through the support of M&T Bank.[23]


View of Albright–Knox Art Gallery from Delaware Park


Since 2013, Janne Sirén has been director of the Albright–Knox Art Gallery. Sirén is believed to be the first director from the Nordic region to take the helm of a major American art museum.[24]

Complete list of directors:

  • Janne Gallen-Kallela-Sirén (2013–present)
  • Louis Grachos (2002-2013)
  • Douglas G. Schultz (1983-2002)
  • Robert T. Buck, Jr. (1973-1983)
  • Gordon M. Smith (1955–1973)
  • Edgar C. Schenck (1949–1955)
  • Andrew C. Ritchie (1942–1949)
  • Gordon B. Washburn (1931–1942)
  • William M. Hekking (1925–1931)
  • Cornelia Bentley Sage Quinton (1910–1924)
  • Charles McMeen Kurtz (1905–1909)


As of 2007, the Albright–Knox Art Gallery's endowment stood at about $58 million, generating about $1.1 million a year for acquisitions.[11] Since the proceeds from the sale of some 200 works of art in 2007 were added to the preexisting $22 million acquisitions endowment, the museum has been able to spend as much as almost $5 million on new art annually.[25] In 2013, the Albright–Knox Art Gallery received an $11 million bequest from the estate of longtime board member and Buffalo arts patron Peggy Pierce Elfvin, possibly the largest single gift in the museum's history.[26]

See also[edit]

Albright Art Gallery in 1913


  1. ^ a b c "National Register of Historical Places - New York (NY), Erie County". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2007-02-24.
  2. ^ a b c "Our History | Albright-Knox". www.albrightknox.org. Retrieved 2019-01-28.
  3. ^ "John J. Albright | Albright-Knox". www.albrightknox.org. Retrieved 2019-01-28.
  4. ^ "Edward B. Green | Albright-Knox". www.albrightknox.org. Retrieved 2019-01-28.
  5. ^ "Our History | Albright-Knox". www.albrightknox.org. Retrieved 2019-02-14.
  6. ^ a b Julia Halperin (October 22, 2014), Buffalo’s jewel-box art museum to grow Archived 2014-10-23 at the Wayback Machine The Buffalo News.
  7. ^ "OMA Selected for Buffalo's Albright-Knox Art Gallery Expansion". ArchDaily. 2016-06-07. Retrieved 2020-03-15.
  8. ^ "A New Museum Network Is Focusing On the Monuments Men's Long-Overlooked Postwar Cultural Contributions". Artnet News. 2021-06-17. Retrieved 2021-07-07.
  9. ^ "International Exhibition of Pictorial Photography | Buffalo AKG Art Museum".
  10. ^ Michael Brenson (July 27, 1988), Media Artist Named To Represent U.S. At '90 Venice Biennale The New York Times.
  11. ^ a b Randy Kennedy (March 14, 2007), Buffalo’s Pain: Giving Up Old Art to Gain New The New York Times.
  12. ^ Michael Brenson (October 18, 1987), When America Put Its Stamp On World Painting The New York Times.
  13. ^ "Clyfford Still Collection | Buffalo AKG Art Museum".
  14. ^ "History of Albright-Knox Art Gallery", Albrightknox.org Archived 2008-12-18 at the Wayback Machine, 23 September 2008
  15. ^ Bowley, Graham (25 April 2017). "Marisol Estate is Given to the Albright-Knox Art Gallery". The New York Times.
  16. ^ Colin Dabkowski (August 24, 2013), Albright-Knox buys mammoth painting by German artist Anselm Kiefer The Buffalo News.
  17. ^ "Collection Highlights". Albright-Knox Art Gallery. Retrieved April 6, 2012.
  18. ^ "Artemis" fetches a staggering sum" The Buffalo News, 7 June 2007 Accessed 3 September 2008;
  19. ^ "Albright-Knox rakes it in", Art In America, September 2007.
  20. ^ Lee Rosenbaum, "Mission Creep: Albright-Knox Belatedly Releases Its Complete Deaccession List" Arts Journal
  21. ^ "The War Against the Albright-Knox". Archived from the original on February 1, 2010. Retrieved March 2, 2010.
  22. ^ "Re-examining deaccessioning at the Albright - Modern Art Notes". Archived from the original on November 23, 2008. Retrieved March 2, 2010.
  23. ^ "Hours & Admission". Albright–Knox Art Gallery. Retrieved August 6, 2016.
  24. ^ Carol Vogel (January 14, 2013), Buffalo’s Albright-Knox Gets a Director from Much Farther North The New York Times.
  25. ^ Kevin West (November 2007), In With The New - With contemporary art booming out of control, how can museums afford to play? Archived 2014-01-16 at the Wayback Machine W.
  26. ^ Colin Dabkowski (October 9, 2013), Albright-Knox gets $11 million bequest from ex-board member, Peggy Pierce Elfvin Buffalo News.

External links[edit]