Janne Sirén, the Peggy Pierce Elfvin Director of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, today announced that the museum’s once-in-a-lifetime expansion project, known as AK360, has taken a giant leap forward in record time with the pledge of the largest single private donation to a cultural institution in the history of Buffalo, New York.
Financial visionary and prominent art collector Jeffrey Gundlach, a native of the Buffalo area who has maintained lifelong ties to the city and its world-renowned Albright-Knox, has made an innovative challenge gift to the institution of $42.5 million. The gift has galvanized the entire Buffalo community to rally in support of the project, with more than $40.5 million contributed from the private sector, including individuals, foundations and corporations, as well as expected government support of an estimated $20 million, including $15 million from the State of New York. This spectacular level of rapid support has inspired the museum to increase the goal of its capital campaign to $125 million. Funds will enable the museum to realize an urgently needed expansion and renovation of its buildings—with a design by Shohei Shigematsu of the internationally recognized firm OMA—and to enhance its campus in Frederick Law Olmsted’s magnificent Delaware Park. As part of the AK360 Capital Campaign, the museum will also bolster its operating endowment to ensure its future vibrancy and vitality.
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo said, “From paying tribute to modern classics to showcasing Buffalo’s best, the Albright-Knox Art Gallery has served as a renowned cultural institution in Western New York for generations. With this expansion, this celebrated museum will further extend its reach and provide more New Yorkers, visitors and residents with the opportunity to enjoy its timeless exhibits. This project is further proof of Western New York’s renaissance, and the state is proud to support this unique initiative which will benefit the entire region.”
Thomas R. Hyde, President of the museum’s Board of Directors, also announced a new name for the museum, saying, “The Albright-Knox Art Gallery has been a key contributor to Buffalo’s cultural life for generations. Today, as individuals, foundations, corporations and government partners invest together in the museum’s future, the AK360 project emerges as a cultural centerpiece of a revitalizing Buffalo, with Jeffrey Gundlach as the initiative’s principal champion. In recognition of Mr. Gundlach’s extraordinary vision and generosity, and in honor of his dedication to the city, the Board of Directors of the Buffalo Fine Arts Academy has unanimously resolved that the museum shall become known officially as the Buffalo Albright-Knox-Gundlach Art Museum, colloquially the Buffalo AKG Art Museum.” The new name continues the museum’s tradition of honoring transformative donors. The name change will take effect upon the opening of a new building on the museum’s expanded and renovated campus.
The Albright-Knox will announce the gift and its new name at a celebratory event at the museum honoring Jeffrey Gundlach. Expected to attend the event are government officials including Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz and Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown, representatives of 12 foundations, 32 Board Members and more than 50 individuals who have rallied to Mr. Gundlach’s challenge with an outpouring of financial support for AK360.
Albright-Knox Art Gallery’s Peggy Pierce Elfvin Director Janne Sirén said, “Many cities around the world have reinvented themselves by investing in culture, and now Buffalo joins the ranks of this movement, with the museum’s rich cultural history and bold vision for the future fueling the engine of a social and economic renaissance. Art and culture, ancient markers of human identity, tell us where we come from, who we are, and what we might aspire to be. Access to art and culture is a basic human right and that is what our campus development project, AK360, is all about.”
Jeffrey Gundlach said, “I learned about art by going to the Albright-Knox Art Gallery with my family. It was the place that first opened my eyes and mind to the endless possibilities of art and showed me that Buffalo didn’t just have the potential for greatness, but actually had a museum that was world-class. That’s why I wanted to make this challenge gift to AK360: to energize the project, give it a burst of momentum and galvanize the enthusiasm of private and foundation donors and the public sector, including the City of Buffalo, Erie County and the State of New York.”
Robert G. Wilmers, Chairman of the AK360 capital campaign and Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of M&T Bank, said, “The challenge gift that Jeffrey Gundlach conceived has already proved transformative for the campaign and the museum, and we are deeply grateful. Investments in great cultural institutions pay enormous dividends to their cities and communities, increasing their social and economic capital. This remarkable gift and the overwhelming support it has spurred will have a profound impact on the civic life of Buffalo and Western New York for generations to come.”
The Albright-Knox formulated the AK360 project following an 18-month outreach effort to determine whether its public wants the museum to be enlarged and enhanced and to understand how the community would like an expanded museum to function. Based on public input, the Albright-Knox then developed the concept of AK360, a title that signals the goal of taking a 360-degree view of the relationship between the institution and its community and urban setting.
The expansion project will:
- Provide much-needed space to exhibit the collection of masterworks, which has quadrupled since the last expansion in 1962
- Create first-rate facilities for presenting special exhibitions
- Enhance the visitor experience with new and better space for education, dining and special gatherings
- Integrate the museum’s campus within Frederick Law Olmsted’s Delaware Park
The Albright-Knox then conducted an international search for a design architect and selected the firm of OMA/Shohei Shigematsu. One of the world’s most admired architectural firms, OMA is known in America for projects including the Seattle Central Library, Milstein Hall at Cornell University and the IIT Campus Center in Chicago. The enlarged and enhanced Albright-Knox will be OMA’s first museum project in the United States.
In addition to setting a construction goal for AK360, the museum is also seeking to increase its endowment funds to broaden organizational capacity and ensure that an expanded Albright-Knox can thrive in the twenty-first century.
Jeffrey Gundlach retained Art Agency, Partners, a wholly owned subsidiary of Sotheby’s, to advise, structure and realize this landmark donation. He is Chief Executive Officer and Founder of DoubleLine Capital, an investment management firm headquartered in Los Angeles with assets under management of more than $100 billion. He has been named one of the “50 Most Influential” by Bloomberg Marketsmagazine (2013, 2015 and 2016), “Money Manager of the Year” by Institutional Investor magazine (2013) and one of Forbes magazine’s “Most Powerful People” (2014). He was a summa cum laude graduate of Dartmouth College.