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Albright-Knox: We’ve Sold Our Art; Now Let’s Expand Our Building!

“Artemis and the Stag,” sold from the collection of the Albright-Knox Gallery, now on loan (as “Artemis and the Deer”) at the Metropolitan Museum (above)

We thought that the Albright-Knox Gallery, Buffalo, was in pretty dire economic straits. After all, it had claimed that it needed to sell major artworks, long proudly displayed and admired by the public, because local philanthropy was inadequate to support purchases of contemporary art.

As Randy Kennedy of the NY Times wrote last March:

The museum’s director and board of trustees said that the decision to
sell the pieces had not been easy, but that for a museum whose mission
has long focused on modern and contemporary art, the antiquities were a
luxury—especially in a city with few deep pockets—it could no
longer afford.

Now, however, we discover that Buffalo’s pockets might not be so shallow, after all: Irene Liguori of the Buffalo News reports that the museum plans to launch a capital campaign to fund a major expansion. Director Louis Grachos told Liguori that his institution would commission “a world-renowned architect to design an extraordinary building that will attract visitors from all over the world.”

Now where have I heard that exact same language before? Ah, I remember: It’s in the Strategic Plan (p. 8) that the museum produced in 2001—the same one that redefined the museum’s mission to focus almost exclusively on modern and contemporary art.

Charles Banta, the museum’s board president, said this about the expansion plans:

After 45 years, the gallery is in dire need of additional exhibition
space to display its growing permanent collection.

I thought the permanent collection was shrinking.

The Buffalo News also reports:

The gallery cannot use [for the capital project] the $90 million it raised for its restricted
endowment last year from the sale of antiquities. That money can only
be used to buy new art for the gallery’s permanent collection.

Or so we hope.

Incidentally, I just caught up with a Jan. 28 Albright-Knox press release, defending the authencity of Artemis and Whoever against recent detractors.

an ArtsJournal blog