An abundance of riches ' with nowhere to go

Albright-Knox's proposed expansion is a welcome announcement

The Albright-Knox Art Gallery is home to an impressive collection of about 6,740 works of art, and yet, museum visitors only get to see 200 of those.

The gallery’s vast and diverse assortment of art, featuring renowned works from artists ranging from Picasso to Renoir, to Warhol and Pollock, is stymied by A simple but stubborn problem – the museum just isn’t big enough.

Fortunately, the individuals running the show at the Knox agree. Thomas Hyde, president of the Buffalo Academy of Fine Arts, which manages the gallery, rightly calls further development a “necessity.”

With only 3 percent of the museum’s collection currently on display, “necessity” might even be an understatement.

Though the Albright-Knox has the artwork of a top-tier gallery, its exhibit space is an embarrassment compared to other American museums. Without a doubt, the building is beautiful and historic – dating back to 1905 – buts it attractive architecture can’t mitigate its lack of square footage.

So, an expansion is welcome news.

The question that remains, then, is not if, but where?

Meetings with the community have generated a clear dilemma, between expanding the current site, and developing a new building elsewhere. Clearly, the current building must remain a part of the gallery – the site, located in Delaware Park and right along Elmwood Avenue’s “museum row,” is nothing short of idyllic. And to render a building like the Knox obsolete would be a cultural travesty.

Fortunately, most of the discussion surrounding a new site is focused on the idea of a satellite building – an additional gallery that could be located somewhere with additional space.

Though the idea of a brand new building is enticing, and the potential for a gallery located downtown or along the waterfront does have its merits, ultimately expanding the current site is more reasonable, and more loyal to the current image that the gallery maintains.

There is plenty of development transforming the waterfront into an attractive destination for residents and tourists alike. The Elmwood area could use a boost as well, and a renovated, expanded art gallery would offer just that.

With its proximity to Buffalo State, students would also benefit from an expansion. And business owners and museum-goers alike would continue to enjoy what the gallery’s neighbors have to offer – a plethora of dining and drinking options provide the perfect follow-up to a day of high-brow cultural exploration.

Expanding the Albright-Know in its current location not only allows the Elmwood area to continue to benefit from the gallery’s presence, but it would also provide the opportunity to create a museum with all the bells and whistles, so to speak.

Additional space to house more exhibits and improve visitors’ experiences – not to mention offering more bang for their buck – would be just one of many benefits to an expansion.

Increased parking – perhaps even a parking garage – would simplify the arrival process. Expanded dining options, more educational facilities and increased outdoor space could all be considered as renovations included in an Elmwood-centric expansion.

The Albright-Knox is already renowned for its collection. The gallery – and its patrons – deserves a building that would make Picasso and Pollock proud.