5 Reasons to Visit the Burchfield Penney Art Center

By Ed Healy

Published on | Last Updated

Photo by Biff Henrich – courtesy of Burchfield Penney

With the temporary closing of the Buffalo AKG Art Museum’s main campus for its long-awaited expansion (re-opening spring 2023), visual art lovers may find themselves wondering where to indulge their passion in Buffalo. The most obvious answer is hiding in plain sight directly across the street from the Buffalo AKG. Located on the campus of Buffalo State College, the Burchfield Penney Art Center is one of the finest regional museums in the entire country. Foremost among the Burchfield’s credentials is the fact that it’s home to the largest collection of work by the great American watercolorist Charles E. Burchfield, who spent most of his life in nearby Gardenville. Since its inception in 1966, the Burchfield has collected, nurtured and celebrated the work of artists from throughout Western New York. 

Here are five reasons to visit the Burchfield Penney Art Center:

Charles E. Burchfield, “The Four Seasons”

Charles E. Burchfield: Burchfield is a major American artist whose career spanned more than 50 years. His work was the subject of the first solo artist exhibition in the history of the Museum of Modern Art. Regular exhibitions of his body of work at the Burchfield Penney examine his creative process, sharing journal entries, sketches, notebook jottings and finished work. Of special interest: his studio has been reassembled and installed on the premises.

The Collection: The Burchfield serves as the museum of record for Western New York art and artists. The collection offers a broad and deep look at the art of the region in paintings, watercolors, photographs, sculpture, works on paper and a variety of craft media. Its annual Art in Craft Media exhibition shows off the rich tradition of handcrafted artistry found in the region.

Second Fridays: There’s an unpretentious neighborliness at the Burchfield and its events tend to attract a heterogeneous cross section of the community. What the attendees all seem to have in common is the love of a good time and the Burchfield offers just that every second Friday of the month.  

The Programming: Since the opening of its new building in 2008, the Burchfield has functioned almost as much as a community gathering place as an art museum. A busy calendar of concerts, lectures, classes and workshops keep the museum humming most days. 

The Museum Store: Yes, you can find the usual museum gift shop fare of prints, postcards and tchotchkes. But what distinguishes the BPAC gift shop is the handcrafted work by local artists and artisans, making the Burchfield Museum Store feel like a genuine extension of the museum.

Burchfield Penney Art Center, 1300 Elmwood Ave, Buffalo NY 14222 | burchfieldpenney.org

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Ed Healy

Ed Healy is the vice president of marketing for Visit Buffalo Niagara.