Many of Buffalo’s museums cluster together about four or five miles north of downtown, near Delaware Park. To get there take Delaware Avenue, a wide thoroughfare lined with mansions, most once owned by wealthy families and now home to law firms and the like.
Follow Delaware Avenue to Gates Circle and turn left on Chapin Parkway to reach Lincoln Parkway and Delaware Park. At the intersection of Chapin and Lincoln Parkway is the William R. Heath House (72 Soldier’s Pl.), one of five houses in the city designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.
Albright-Knox Art Gallery
The centerpiece of Buffalo’s art scene, the airy, low-slung Albright-Knox Art Gallery (1285 Elmwood Ave., near Scajaquada Expwy., 716/882-8700, www.albrightknox.org, noon–5 p.m. Tues.–Thurs. and Sat.–Sun., noon–10 p.m. Fri., adults $12, students 13–18 and seniors $8, children under 12 free) is known around the world for its superb collection of contemporary art.
The Albright-Knox was the first museum in the United States to purchase works by Picasso and Matisse, and the first anywhere to present a major exhibition of photography, in 1910.
All the major American and European artists of the past 50 years are well represented, including van Gogh, Gauguin, Pollock, Miró, and Mondrian. The museum also presents 10 first-rate temporary exhibits each year and houses a solid general collection that spans the history of art. The Gallery Shop includes an extensive selection of art books.
Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society
Overlooking a small lake across from the Albright-Knox sits the only remaining permanent building (25 Nottingham Ct., at Elmwood Ave., 716/873-9644, 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Tues.–Sat., noon–5 p.m. Sun., adults $6, seniors and students $4, children 7–12 $2.50) from the 1901 Pan-American Exposition. Inspired by the Parthenon, the lovely structure once housed the New York State pavilion and is now home to the Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society Museum.
The museum features two unusual permanent exhibits. “Bflo. Made!” showcases virtually every product ever produced in the Buffalo region, from Pierce-Arrow cars and General Mills cereal to pacemakers and kazoos. “The People of Erie County” focuses on the area’s vibrant ethnic history, from the Poles of the east side to the Irish of south Buffalo.
Burchfield-Penney Art Center
Also near the Albright-Knox is Buffalo State College, with jade green lawns and sturdy red-brick buildings. Signs point the way to Rockwell Hall and the third-floor Burchfield-Penney Art Center (1300 Elmwood Ave., 716/878-6011, 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Tues.–Sat., 1–5 p.m. Sun., free admission). Spread out over a few galleries, the center is a low-key affair dedicated primarily to Charles E. Burchfield, one of the finest watercolorists of the 20th century. Originally from Iowa, Burchfield spent most of his life living and teaching in Buffalo. He was fascinated by the Buffalo streets and by patterns of fire and sound, which he depicted in a mystical, expressionist style.
The center owns the world’s largest collection of Burchfield works, exhibited on a rotating basis. Works by other contemporary Western New York artists are also exhibited.
Art lovers might also be interested in visiting the Charles E. Burchfield Nature & Art Center (2201 Union Rd., 716/677-4843, www.burchfieldnac.org, 9 a.m.–4 p.m. Mon.–Fri., noon–4 p.m. Sat., admission free) in nearby West Seneca, where Burchfield once lived. The center offers an exhibition area, nature trails, a meditation garden, and a sculpture garden.
Buffalo Museum of Science
On the east side of Buffalo presides the four-story Buffalo Museum of Science (1020 Humboldt Pkwy., at Utica Street, 716/896-5200, 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Wed.–Sat., noon–5 p.m. Sun., adults $7, seniors $6, students and children 3–17 $5), popular with school groups.
© Avalon Travel and Sascha Zuger from Moon New York State, 5th Edition