Expanding Albright-Knox Art Gallery underground

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — The Buffalo Albright-Knox Art Gallery is getting a hundred million dollar makeover.

Last Fall, Buffalo Billionaire Jeffrey Gundlach made a historic donation of $42.5 million to the Albright-Knox Art Gallery. The money helped the gallery raise $125 million for the restoration and expansion project called AK360.

Wednesday night, art officials and the architect unveiled where the expansion project will be built.

The museum will be expanding by about 50,000 square feet. Architects will not be taking any of the park land, instead, they found other creative ways to develop the current campus.

“At the present time we are able to show about 2.5 percent of our collection. We have hundreds of masterpieces literally in storage at all times, we are not able to share them with the public. A key question we have been challenging ourselves and our architects with is where should we build,” said Janne Siren, director of the museum.

The project architect, Shohei Shigematsu with OMA came up with a solution where the project wouldn’t disrupt the Olmsted Parks system.

Shigematsu plans on adding two main galleries. One gallery will be built above the sculpture garden and the other gallery will be built underground, beneath the parking lot. Parking will also be underground and the current parking lot on Elmwood Avenue will be transformed.

“Changing what is now an outdoor gallery into a pass-through is absolutely brilliant,” said Steven Schwartz, Buffalo resident.

“I  think to remove the cars from the view really allows you to enjoy the beautiful new buildings and take that space away and add the green space is incredible for the community. I thought it was incredibly well researched and presented. It presents a building that is world class for buffalo,” said Theresa Jehle, Buffalo resident.

Shigematsu told News 4 that this project is his first project in Buffalo. His vision is to project a 21st century museum.

“Which is not probably possible in big cities, but here you have enough culture and enough context to really reflect well into architecture,” said Shigematsu.

For the next six months, Shigematsu will work on the design of the buildings.

The project is expected to be completed by the fall of 2021 under the new name, the Buffalo Albright-Knox Gundlach Art Museum.

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