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What Is the Albright-Knox Art Gallery?

By C. K. Lanz
Updated May 17, 2024
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The Albright-Knox Art Gallery is an art museum featuring modern and contemporary art located in Buffalo, New York. The collection is housed in a Greek revival–style building across the street from Buffalo State College. Founded in 1862, the Buffalo Fine Arts Academy is the parent organization of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery. The primary mission of this institution is to acquire and exhibit art of the present, and many of the exhibits pair contemporary pieces with modernist masterworks.

The Buffalo Fine Arts Academy is one of America’s oldest public arts institutions. John J. Albright donated funds in 1890 for the building dedicated in 1905 that houses the collection. Architect Edward Brodhead Green designed the gallery that is now listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Seymour H. Knox, Jr. was one of the most generous supporters of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, facilitating acquisitions and gallery expansion. In 1962, the gallery was renamed the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in honor of its two most influential contributors.

The collection emphasizes contemporary and modern art from more than 150 years of acquisitions. Impressionism and post-Impressionism are represented by the works of Paul Gauguin and Vincent van Gogh. Early 20th-century highlights include cubist, surrealist, and constructivist pieces by Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, and Joan Miro, among others. There are also significant collections of abstract expressionism and pop art featuring works by Andy Warhol, Jasper Johns, and Jackson Pollock. Other collection highlights include pieces by Frida Kahlo, Mark Rothko, and Willem de Kooning.

This historical framework provides visitors with a context for exhibits that feature new trends in 21st-century art. Video, photography, and other new media are the focus of recent acquisitions. Some, like the “Projects” series by Nikki S. Lee, are related to performance art. Others, such as Matthew Barney’s Drawing Restraint 9, are films that emphasize how form emerges from struggle and cultural and political chasms. With each new exhibition, the Albright-Knox Art Gallery encourages visitors to compare and contrast new and older masterworks.

Past exhibitions highlight the Albright-Knox Art Gallery mission to encourage the appreciation of modern and contemporary art. Swiss artist Pipilotti Rist’s work was featured in the exhibition called "Dwelling in 2011." In 2009, Nickolas Muray’s photographs of Frida Kahlo were displayed along with reproductions of her letters to the photographer. Other exhibitions have featured photography by women artists, topography, and contemporary sculpture.

Outreach and education are additional core values apparent in the Albright-Knox Art Gallery. Drop-in art activities for children and adults, live music and dance performances, and a dedication to featuring art by local disabled artists are some of the ways this gallery connects with the community. The gallery also celebrates the city’s cultural diversity, featuring the dances and cuisines from local cultural groups.

This museum features a café, library, and gift shop. Parking is available in the museum lot. Visitors with mobility impairments, who are hard of hearing or deaf, or who are blind or partially sighted will find accommodations like audio tours, an accessible entrance, and a TTY teletypewriter. Service animals are also welcome. The Albright-Knox Art Gallery strives to make contemporary and modern art available to and enjoyable for all visitors.

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