Albright-Knox Art Gallery officials expect to choose an architectural firm to design the museum’s first major expansion in more than 50 years by mid-April.
That was the highlight of the gallery’s annual meeting Wednesday night and of a letter the gallery sent to its 7,550 members this week updating them on the progress of a long-germinating expansion project announced a year ago.
Gallery officials, who want to double the museum’s exhibition space and eliminate its surface parking lot, have also hired the New York City-based firm Zubatkin Owner Representation to oversee the project and help it winnow down the list of possible architects to “four or five” firms in December.
The Zubatkin firm has fostered many recent museum and gallery expansion projects, including the $145 million Clark Art Institute expansion in Williamstown, Mass. and the New Museum of Contemporary Art’s 2007 building in New York City.
“We are launched on a voyage of generational importance, not only for the AK, but also for Buffalo and Western New York,” the letter from board president Thomas R. Hyde and gallery director Janne Sirén reads, going on to promise “a new building worthy of the AK’s collection, set in a redesigned campus that forms a hub between Olmsted’s Delaware Park and a flourishing Elmwood Avenue Cultural District, combined with renovated education facilities and programs.”
The gallery’s expansion project now has an official name, “AK 360,” to reflect the gallery’s desire to build a new institution with a community mission beyond exhibiting artworks.
According to the letter, the gallery has developed the framework for a capital campaign that will begin after an architect has been selected.
The letter also listed the key conclusions of the gallery’s public input process. Among them are a desire to expand in its current location rather than at a satellite space, the need for more room for exhibits, a need for the expansion to work in concert with Delaware Park and nearby museums and the importance of the gallery’s role in the region’s economic resurgence.
“Our expansion project has generational importance, certainly for the Albright-Knox, but also for Buffalo and Western New York,” Hyde said Wednesday.