Art museum expansion plans must retain the rich history
Together with its architectural merit, the 1962 Gordon Bunshaft wing of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery is a major piece of Buffalo’s cultural history. The building was the product of a collaboration between Seymour Knox, perhaps the greatest art collector in the city’s history who amassed one of the most important collections of abstract expressionist painting, and Gordon Bunshaft, a leading figure in modern American architecture and the most prominent architect to come from Buffalo.
The collaboration between benefactor and architect on this building compares in importance with that between Darwin Martin and Frank Lloyd Wright earlier in the 20th century. Bunshaft is remembered as having said that Seymour Knox “treated me like I was Michelangelo.” In response, Bunshaft said that he “worked harder on that building than I have ever worked in my life.” The Knox donation and the Bunshaft building put Buffalo on the international map of places to visit to see modern and contemporary art in an outstanding architectural setting.
The Bunshaft wing was equal in importance to the original donation by John J. Albright, a fact that was signified at the time by the change of the institution’s name. In the Albright-Knox’s current expansion plans, those of us who value history and art hope that nothing will be done to compromise the beauty and integrity of this major monument, to dim the glory of an illustrious moment in this city’s history.
Francis R. Kowsky