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What Did the Albright-Knox Art Gallery Look Like in 1916? [BUFFALO: THEN AND NOW]

Albright-Knox Art Gallery
Jack FM

In case you live under a rock, the ginormous white building with the pillars on Elmwood Avenue is the Albright-Knox Art Gallery. It’s also the place you take the cute girl from reception on a Friday night because you want to seem mature — and it’s free. Reeeeal mature, buddy.

Here are a few cool facts about the Albright-Knox Art Gallery.

It was originally the Albright Art Gallery. John J. Albright, the art gallery’s namesake, came from Pennsylvania coal and Lackawanna Steel money. He began construction on the gallery in 1890. It was supposed to be finished by 1901 for the Pan-American Exposition, but in typical Buffalo fashion, it wasn’t finished until 1905 and missed out on all that neat Pan-Am stuff. Then this guy named Seymour donated a bunch of money to the gallery, and they added his name.

The guy who designed the Albright-Knox is kind of a big deal in Buffalo. E. B. Green, a Cornell graduate, saw something special in good ol’ Buffalo in the 1880s that we have a hard time getting our out-of-town friends to see in 2012. Besides the Albright-Knox, Green and his firm also designed South Park High School, the Electric Tower, the Buffalo Savings Bank building and the Main-Seneca Building. And you thought it was just a steakhouse.

You can see some art there. Believe it or not, the Albright-Knox serves a greater purpose then just sitting there and making Buffalo look pretty. If you walk inside, the place is filled with a lot of art, both modern and contemporary (not that you know the difference). Featured on the gallery’s walls are well-known artists such Andy Warhol and Picasso. Try not to hurt yourself figuring out the meaning behind the paintings; we’re pretty sure Warhol just liked soup a lot.

Those large shapes on the front lawn are not a playground — they’re sculptures! I know, we were shocked too, but it turns out that you can’t climb on the big, multicolored cube on the front lawn. So don’t try…when anyone is around. That big block is actually the Stacked Revision Sculpture” by Liam Gillick. Our favorite is the “Canoes Overhead” sculpture by Nancy Rubins. That thing is trippy.

And the below is an actual photo of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery from 1916. No, it’s not Instagram.

Albright-Knox Art Gallery 1916
Photo by Library of Congress, National Archives

Contributed by Sara Johnson

Up Next: What Did Lafayette Square Look Like in 1889?


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