The city of Buffalo has a rich artistic history dating back over 100 years, but even many locals take for granted all of the amazing art the area holds and the gorgeous galleries showcasing it.
Now that fall is in full swing and we’re all spending more time indoors, we thought it would be interesting to highlight all of the incredible art galleries the Buffalo-Niagara area has to offer.
These galleries are a great excuse to get out of the house on a cold afternoon and take in some culture.
The Best Local Art Galleries
Albright-Knox Art Gallery – Founded in 1862 as the Buffalo Fine Arts Academy, the Albright-Knox Art Gallery is the sixth oldest public art institution in the United States and is considered one of the best in the area. According to the gallery’s website, former President Millard Fillmore was among the gallery’s incorporators. Today, the Albright-Knox is considered a major showplace for modern art and contemporary art, drawing exhibitions and artists from around the world.
While the Elmwood location is currently closed for construction, you can visit the Albright-Knox’s Northland location every Friday through Sunday at 612 Northland Avenue in Buffalo. Unfortunately, the gallery’s extensive art collection, which includes iconic pieces from revolutionary artists such as Pablo Picasso, Frida Kahlo and Vincent van Gogh, is being stored until construction is finished. However, there is currently a special exhibition at the Northland location entitled “Difference Machines: Technology & Identity in Contemporary Art” that highlights the work of 17 artists focusing on how digital tools shape our lives.
The new $165 million Elmwood gallery is slated to open in Spring 2022, so mark your calendar for what should be a fantastic upgrade. The expansion will add 30,000 square feet to the gallery, which will more than double the number of works the museum can display at one time, and will include a state-of-the-art space for special exhibitions.
Burchfield Penney Art Center – While the Albright-Knox gets all of the hype, the nearby Burchfield Penney Art Center is nothing to sneeze at. Located adjacent to Buffalo State’s campus, the 84,000 square foot gallery is the only museum dedicated completely to the art and artists of Buffalo and Western New York. It was founded in 1966 as the Charles E. Burchfield Center in honor of American watercolorist Charles E. Burchfield and contains the world’s largest collection of Burchfield’s work. The gallery’s permanent collection includes works from the late 1800s through today.
The Burchfield Penney also features more than 30 rotating exhibitions annually, so each visit is a unique opportunity to explore new works. It is currently open Thursday through Sunday, so you can visit multiple times per month and still see new works of art. And if you’ve never attended Second Fridays, be sure to do so. On the second Friday of every month, the gallery hosts happy hours, performances, concerts, screenings, and other events.
CEPA Gallery – Looking for something a little different? Check out the CEPA Gallery, one of Buffalo’s best kept secrets. The CEPA Gallery is a contemporary photography and visual arts center located in the historic Market Arcade Complex in downtown Buffalo. The center features three galleries of rotating exhibits and events, multimedia public art installations, arts education programs, and an open-access darkroom and digital photo lab. It was founded in 1974 by graduates of the University at Buffalo and is now one of the oldest and largest not-for-profit photography-based arts centers in the United States. You won’t find a center like this in many cities–and it’s completely free and open to the public. If you visit Wednesday through Friday, you’ll need to make an appointment, but you’re free to show up anytime they’re open on Saturday.
UB Anderson Gallery – The University at Buffalo’s Anderson Gallery, located on Martha Jackson Place near UB’s South campus, is home to the university’s extensive permanent art collection. Art collector and gallerist David K. Anderson converted the building, a former elementary school, to a high-end art exhibition space before opening the gallery in 1991. He gifted the gallery to the University at Buffalo in 2000, along with over 1,200 pieces of art. The first floor exhibition space includes four galleries that span over 4,400 square feet, and the second floor includes an exhibition hallway and a glass-walled sculpture gallery across 4,200 square feet. The gallery has hosted over 75 exhibitions in the past five years, showcasing acclaimed and emerging artists from around the world. The gallery is temporarily closed for installation but will reopen November 6, so be sure to add it to your list this fall.
UB Art Gallery at the Center for the Arts – The University at Buffalo’s second art gallery is located in the Center for the Arts on UB’s North Campus. It was founded in 1994 and features 5,000 square feet of exhibition space in its first floor, second floor and Lightwell Galleries. The center features contemporary art exhibitions as well as work from the university’s collection of over 4,000 items. The gallery also regularly features the work of UB students and serves as a resource for the university community. It’s also free and open to the public, so take a stop by if you’re in the area.
Allentown First Friday Gallery Walk – Buffalo’s Allentown district is known for being its artsy neighborhood, and the Allentown Gallery Walk is the perfect way to immerse yourself in everything the area has to offer. The Allentown Gallery Walk is a free, self-guided tour of galleries, shops and restaurants. On the first Friday of every month, crowds gather in Allentown to take part in the tour, known as “First Fridays.” The walk features dozens of art venues of all sizes in and around Allentown. Galleries, restaurants, shops and other local businesses all come together to feature some of the best art local creators have to offer. There will often be musicians playing as well as other artists who come to celebrate and speak about their work.
Join in this popular cultural attraction that will expose you to some of the city’s most captivating artists and artwork. The upcoming tours to close out 2021 take place the evenings of November 5 and December 3. Featured galleries and art venues have included:
Even if you can’t join in on the Friday tour, you can stop in some of these unique venues to take in the local art scene on other days of the week.
North Tonawanda / Niagara
Carnegie Art Center – Venturing out of the city to North Tonawanda will bring you to a phenomenal art venue in Carnegie Art Center. The center was originally built in 1903 as a Library, which Andrew Carnegie gifted to the city of North Tonawanda. The building opened in 1904 and served as a public library for over 70 years. However, since 1975, it has functioned as the Carnegie Art Center, providing artistic programming for the North Tonawanda community and beyond. In addition to rotating art exhibits, the Center features a variety of cultural and educational programs, including dance classes, glass-blowing classes and even an outdoor music series during warmer months. The building includes many of the original architectural features from 1904 and is listed on the State and National Register of Historic Sites. Check it out Wednesday-Saturdays or register for one of their special events.
Castellani Art Museum of Niagara University – The Castellani Art Museum is located on Niagara University’s main campus in the town of Lewiston. The original museum, known as the Buscaglia-Castellani Art Gallery, was built in 1978 and was located off campus. It was developed by Armand J. Castellani, an Italian immigrant with a passion for art who wanted to encourage the study of art by students and the community. In 1990 the gallery was renamed the Castellani Art Museum and moved to a new building directly on campus. The museum features a wide variety of fine art, Falls art (depictions of Niagara Falls), and folk art. The fine art collection includes over 5,000 paintings, sculptures, prints, drawings, and photographs dating from the 1850s to the present. The Falls art includes depictions of Niagara Falls dating back over 300 years, including a 425-piece print collection that is one of the most comprehensive ever assembled, thanks to the acquisition of the Charles Rand Penney Historical Niagara Falls Print Collection in 2006. Finally, the folk art collection features traditional art created within the diverse communities and cultures of Western New York. According to the museum website, traditions in the collection include Tuscarora Beadwork, Puerto Rican vejigante masks, Turkish Paper Marbling (ebru), and more.
Fittingly for an art museum, the Castellani building itself is beautiful. The exterior features impeccable white-gray marble imported from Italy. Twelve massive pillars frame the entrance, which features indoor and outdoor sculptures. The central exhibition hall features 20-foot ceilings, with seven individual galleries branching off. The building also includes studio and classroom space for the University’s Fine Arts program. The museum is open Saturdays and Sundays only and admission is always free.
Which art galleries will you be visiting this fall? Let us know in the comments below.