Buffalo’s jewel-box art museum to grow

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The Albright-Knox Art Gallery is planning its first expansion in 50 years

The Albright-Knox Art Gallery. Photo: Mark Hogan

The Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, New York, is preparing to launch its first major expansion effort in more than 50 years. “We are in dire need of more space to accommodate a collection that is a national treasure, and one that has grown significantly in recent years,” says Janne Siren, the museum’s director.

The Albright-Knox’s current exhibition space can accommodate only 200 works—just 3% of its 6,740-piece collection, which is considered among the finest holdings of Modern and contemporary art on the East Coast.

The museum—home to major works by Frida Kahlo, Giacomo Balla and Clyfford Still—presented its case for growth at its annual members meeting earlier this month. “Campus development is no longer an option; it is a necessity,” said Thomas Hyde, the president of the Buffalo Academy of Fine Arts, which oversees the Albright-Knox, at the meeting.

Starting on 27 October, the museum is due to hold a series of meetings with members and the broader public to seek input and discuss its vision for the future, followed by a series of focus groups. Siren declined to specify an exact budget or scale for the expansion before these discussions take place. “The scope and ambition of our plans will depend on not only our operational needs, but also on the thoughts and insights of our constituents,” he says.

The project has been a long time coming. The museum first began discussing a possible expansion in 2001, but this took a back seat in the following years as the museum became caught up in a debate over deaccessioning. In 2012, the board commissioned the architectural firm Snøhetta to produce a master plan for future growth, but the details of this project have remained under wraps. Museum leaders told the Buffalo News that they are interested in holding an architectural competition for design proposals following their meetings with the public.

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