An Afternoon at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery

Elmwood Village Association Marketing and Communications intern, Zack Reese, visited one the Elmwood Village’s oldest landmarks, the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, for the first time and would like to share his experience with you.

The Monet and the Impressionist Revolution, 1860-1910 exhibit has been extended to Sunday, March 20, with the exhibit open until 10 p.m. on Saturday, March 19.

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I have lived in Buffalo for 22 years, attended Buffalo State for four years, and have lived right outside of the Elmwood Village for one year and I have never been to the Albright-Knox Art Gallery. After visiting for the first time this week, I have a message for everyone who’s never been there: do yourself a favor and visit the Albright-Knox. The place is a treasure of Buffalo.

Background & History

The Albright-Knox was founded officially in December 1862 as the Buffalo Fine Arts Academy and it is now among one of the oldest public arts institutions in the entire United States. Since it’s inception, the art gallery has been collecting, preserving and exhibiting modern and contemporary art.

The name change came from two of the museum’s greatest benefactors and supporters, who alone paid for a new building piece. John J. Albright provided the funds for the white Greek revival structure you see in the picture at the top of this post. This became the permanent home for the museum in 1905. Seymour H. Knox Jr., who is the second namesake of the gallery, funded another addition to the complex (which was finished in 1962) and brought in several hundred new works to display.

A First Time Experience

Let me set the scene for you: After a full day of classes and meetings, I was feeling very stressed and burnt out. So I thought, “What better day than today? I have some time to kill so why not?” Walking up to the entrance of the gallery I was taken aback by the general beauty of the surrounding area. The museum itself rests on a hill overlooking the beautiful Hoyt Lake, which on this particular day was gleaming in the sunlight, like a crystal blue diamond.

My ticket was only $11, and somehow the woman at the desk seemed to know that it was my first time there and was very accommodating, and we talked briefly about the museum. The Monet and the Impressionist Revolution, 1860-1910 exhibit is going on right now at the gallery and admission is included with your ticket. At this point I was ready to explore this place.

I decided to save the Monet exhibit for last and started down a long hallway with paintings on both sides of the corridor. The paintings were breath taking. Each was completely different from the next and I took some time to appreciate the effort that the artists had put into them. Some of these paintings dated back to the 1800’s. They were history in every aspect. The entire museum has curators walking around ready to answer any questions, and to make sure visitors respect the artwork. I asked one of them, “Are all of the frames the original frames?” She said that they were!

Another big takeaway for me as I journeyed through the museum was that there was not one place where art wasn’t present. The courtyards had huge, ornate, beautiful statues. Every wall was covered with a piece, and this trend continued as I headed upstairs. The second floor of the gallery is interesting because it truly blends and blurs the lines of old and new. There are modern prints and photography pieces everywhere. Then, I caught my breath after witnessing the sheer history of the Greek style building. Looking up at the pillars I thought “this place doesn’t just exhibit art, it is art.” The inside of the building was gorgeous and I continued on into the sculpture area.

Some of the sculptures were metal, others wooden, and each had a different characteristic that set it aside from the others. What took me by surprise was the amount of artwork inside the gallery that seemed to go on and on. Sculptures lead to paintings, which led to prints and to photos and drawings. It was amazing.

Finally ready to experience the works of Claude Monet, I headed back downstairs. My excitement was rolling off of me while I was taking steps towards the exhibit.

The exhibit is separated into four different rooms, with three rooms dedicated to showing the works done by other impressionist artists who were influenced by Monet during 1860-1910. The art was absolutely beautiful and I decided to go around the exhibit before heading to Monet. (I wanted to save the best for last.) I started to get emotional looking at the artwork by the other artists before heading to the finale. Throughout this entire adventure, I was imagining the artists in their studios, slowly working, in simpler times.

I walked into the Monet room and what I felt was incredible. To see the work that we learn about in elementary school, and to see what I’ve only ever seen online, or in text; to see it in-person was stunning. Monet signed each of his works with the year it was finished. Seeing something created in 1882 was shocking. Having it in front of me was something that simply won’t be forgotten or come again. Pictures are prohibited in the Monet room, so you can only see them in person. Do yourself a favor and see the exhibit if you haven’t and if you already have, go see it again before it’s gone.

The Monet and the Impressionist Revolution, 1860-1910 exhibit has been extended to Sunday, March 20, with the exhibit open until 10 p.m. on Saturday, March 19.