Visionary Collecting: 150 Years in the Making

The Albright-Knox Art Gallery is dedicated to enhancing the understanding and appreciation of contemporary and modern art. As a hub of artistic and cultural energies, it strives to be an inspiring educational resource for all audiences.

Founded officially in December 1862, The Buffalo Fine Arts Academy is among the country's oldest public arts institutions, sharing that distinction with the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.; the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia; the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art in Hartford; and the Yale University Art Gallery in New Haven, among others. At the turn of that century, John J. Albright set this institution on its course by donating funds for a new building. With Edward B. Green as its architect, the Greek revival structure that became the permanent home for the Albright Art Gallery was dedicated on May 31, 1905. ;xNLx;;xNLx;During the middle years of the century, Seymour H. Knox, Jr., became the Gallery's most influential supporter, not only making possible the building of a new addition designed by Gordon Bunshaft, but also amassing a brilliant collection of artworks. The group of nearly seven hundred works collected during this time still represents the most intense period of growth for the Gallery's Collection, a result of Mr. Knox's daring spirit, discerning judgment, and the unique partnership and vision he shared with Director Gordon M. Smith. The new wing that was dedicated in 1962, one hundred years after the founding of the Academy, stands as a testament to Mr. Knox and his vision; his generosity was reflected in the institution’s adoption of a new name, the Albright-Knox Art Gallery. ;xNLx;;xNLx;The Gallery's 150-year tradition of collecting, conserving, and exhibiting the art of its time has given rise to one of the world’s most extraordinary art collections, including such renowned works as Pablo Picasso's La Toilette, 1906, acquired in 1926; Joan Miró’s Carnival of Harlequin, 1924–25, acquired in 1940; Willem de Kooning’s Gotham News, 1955, acquired in 1955; and Arshile Gorky’s The Liver Is the Cock’s Comb, 1944, acquired in 1956. ;xNLx;;xNLx;The Gallery has continued to add cutting-edge contemporary art to its Collection, adding major works in recent years by such artists as Matthew Barney, Mark Bradford, Tara Donovan, Teresita Fernandez, Liam Gillick, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Mona Hatoum, Jim Lambie, Catherine Opie, Jorge Pardo, Jennifer Steinkamp, and Philip Taaffe. Under the guidance of past Gallery Director Louis Grachos, the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, in conjunction with the Carnegie Museum of Art, became the first museum to jointly acquire a major, large-scale contemporary work—Rachel Whiteread’s Untitled (Domestic), 2002. ;xNLx;;xNLx;Visiting the Gallery today promises unexpected surprises. Constantly changing installations and special exhibitions pair contemporary art with the masterworks of modernism, always inviting a reexamination of the old with the new in innovative and exciting ways. ;xNLx;;xNLx;;xNLx;This timeline was complied by Holly E. Hughes, Curator for the AKAG Collection.

Building Dedication Ceremony

The dedication ceremony for the BFAA's new building, named the Albright Art Gallery in honor of John J. Albright, takes place. Harvard University President Charles William Eliot gives a ceremonial address on "Beauty and Democracy." Attendees view the exhibition "Inaugural Loan Collection of Paintings", featuring 237 works by Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, Thomas Gainsborough, Rembrandt van Rijn, James McNeill Whistler, and many others.

Incorporation of the BFAA

The Buffalo Fine Arts Academy (BFAA) is founded. Former President Millard Fillmore is the first to sign the certificate of incorporation.

BFAA Hosts First Exhibition

The BFAA hosts its first exhibition in a rented space in the Arcade Building block on Main and Clinton Streets.

Donation of First Artwork

Albert Bierstadt donates the first work of art to the BFAA—"The Marina Piccola, Capri", 1859—and is named the first Honorary Member of its Board of Directors.

BFAA Moves to New Location

Following a major fire in the American Hotel, adjacent to the Arcade Building, the BFAA moves to the Young Men’s Association building at Main and Eagle Streets.

BFAA Moves to New Location

The BFAA moves to more spacious quarters in the Austin Building on Franklin Avenue and West Eagle Street.

First Public Art Exhibition Occurs in Buffalo

The first public art exhibition in Buffalo, New York, is held at the American Hotel on Main Street.

BFAA Moves to New Location

The BFAA moves again, to an even larger space in the Buffalo Library building at Lafayette Square.

BFAA Opens Art School

The BFAA opens an art school. Later, in 1891, it merges with the Students' Art Club to form the Art Students' League.

The Print Department is Established

The Print Department of the BFAA is established through generous gifts from Frederick H. James and Willis O. Chapin.

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