The Albright-Knox Art Gallery is one of the earliest museums in the country to have collecting modern art as its mission. Rockwell Hall at Buffalo State College, was the original main building (1931) of the college and the home of the initial Burchfield Penney Art Center for many years until it moved to the new building this year. It now houses the College's Performing Arts Center and Conservation School.
The Interior of the Art Center is actually quite well done. What does every museum that showcases modern/contemporary art really want? Just lots of white walls and wood floors. And the Burchfield Penney has that. The spaces flow really nicely. It's not a large museum, but it is filled with various types of spaces, niches, windows that frame different views, private spaces to reflect and view the art or just reflect. The light is quite wonderful throughout the museum. I sort of wanted the Burchfield Rotunda to be larger or to be more focused (on the first floor). Its accompanying space above on the second floor has no art but benches with a window that frames views of the Albright-Knox. And treating the view of that as a piece of art is quite brilliant - probably the best gesture of the building.
So, as an architect I was very disappointed by the building presented to the street and its contribution or lack thereof to the neighborhood. But as a museum-goer, I enjoyed my visit. And as a native Buffalonian, I think it's an important contribution to the community and the community is really proud to have this new addition - and raising $36 million in Buffalo is no easy feat. It was exciting that we had trouble finding a parking spot and that the galleries and shop were full of people. Granted it was free the first week, but still that bodes well I hope. I hope that despite its lack of stellar design, it will become an important component of the city's art world and its story. (See my Facebook page for a photo album of my visit to the Burchfield Penney.)
After all , the name of my blog is "Cities and Memory" because I love cities, their architecture, people, places, layers and what they say about us, remembering our past and creating our future.