The jewel in the crown of Buffalo’s vibrant and varied art scene is the magnificent Albright-Knox Art Gallery. One of the oldest art institutions in the country, the Albright is renowned as the home of one of the most significant collections of modern and contemporary art in North America. Their bench is long and deep and includes names like Picasso, Van Gogh, Cezanne, Matisse, Gauguin, Pollock, Warhol and other luminaries far too numerous to mention. This voluminous collection cannot be adequately exhibited in the museum’s current configuration, which is why it is temporarily closed and undergoing a major expansion that is expected to be complete in Spring 2022. A satellite location on Northland Avenue on the city’s East Side will open in January 2020 and serve as the museum’s public space while its main campus is expanded and renovated.
Directly across the street from the Albright is the Burchfield Penney Art Center on the campus of Buffalo State College. The Burchfield is dedicated to collecting and exhibiting the work of artists from throughout Western New York, with a special emphasis on the work of famed watercolorist Charles E. Burchfield, who made his home for many years in nearby Gardenville. The exhibits and programming at the Burchfield are rich and varied and offer a visitor a consistently compelling visual arts experience.
Buffalo’s visual arts scene doesn’t end with these two stellar institutions. Hallwalls Contemporary Art Center has an international reputation for cutting edge exhibitions and thought provoking special events. Nearby CEPA Gallery, Buffalo’s leading institution dedicated to the photographic arts, also enjoys renown for its provocative exhibitions far beyond Buffalo’s borders.
If you’re interested in seeing artists at work make sure to visit Buffalo Arts Studio in the Tri-Main Building in North Buffalo. Located in a former windshield wiper factory, Buffalo Arts Studio is home to more than 40 artists and substantial exhibit space.
The most notable cluster of galleries in the city can be found in the Allentown neighborhood, including Buffalo Big Print, El Buen Amigo, Indigo Art Gallery and several others. The best way to experience this scene is to stop by during the regularly scheduled First Fridays event. Wine, conversation and a good time are sure to follow. (Insider’s tip: Be sure to stroll by the corner of Allen and College streets and check out the murals.)
Other must see stops for the culturally inclined traveler include the galleries of the University at Buffalo, both on its Amherst Campus and in the city of Buffalo at the Anderson Gallery in University Heights, as well as Big Orbit Gallery, Nina Freudenheim Gallery, Body of Trade & Commerce Gallery, Sugar City, Artsphere, The Benjaman Gallery and the 1045 Gallery on Elmwood Avenue.
Finally, no description of Buffalo’s art scene would be complete without mention of the Allentown Art Festival, the Elmwood Festival of the Arts, Music is Art and the Echo Art Fair. Though each has a distinctive focus they all share an unpretentious and unassuming vibe that’s characteristic of the city they call home.
— Ed Healy