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Gallery Archives

The Gallery Archives documents the history of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery from its inception in 1862 as The Buffalo Fine Arts Academy to the present day. It contains the official records of the museum and its volunteer organizations, including minutes of the Board of Directors, Annual Reports, departmental files, artists’ correspondence, photographs, drawings, and video and audiotape interviews.

The Gallery Archives Collection may be accessed through finding aids. A finding aid is a descriptive guide for an archival collection. Typically, it includes information about the origin, history, content, date, and format of the records, as well as the physical and intellectual arrangement of the collection. Online finding aids are available for our Director’s correspondence from 1905 through 1983. For a full description and link to the finding aid, select a collection below. A print finding aid for all of our archive collections from 1905 through 1983 is available in the Library.

Directorships

Listed chronologically by dates of service:

Charles M. Kurtz (1905–1909) [AK2.2]

As first director of the Albright Art Gallery, Charles M. Kurtz organized many of the inaugural exhibits at the Gallery, including the first loan exhibition, and the first watercolor and annual American exhibitions. The Charles M. Kurtz Records contain correspondence documenting Albright Art Gallery events, exhibits, and staff, as well as other galleries and art organizations. View Finding Aid

Cornelia Bentley Sage Quinton (1910–1924) [AK2.3]

The first female art director of a major art museum in the United States, Cornelia Bentley Sage Quinton developed several pioneering exhibitions at the Albright Art Gallery. These include photo-secessionist photography (curated by Alfred Stieglitz), contemporary sculpture, and several French School exhibitions with works by Bourdelle and the de Monvel Family. The Sage Quinton Records consist of correspondence with other museums, professional organizations, art dealers, and collectors, as well as Albright Art Gallery events and exhibits. View Finding Aid

William M. Hekking (1925–1931) [AK2.4]

William M. Hekking’s directorship was marked by increased outreach efforts in art education for children and local community groups. During his tenure, the Gallery acquired such works as Picasso’s La Toilette and hosted the Societé Anonyme’s International Exhibition of Modern Art. Hekking’s records contain correspondence documenting Gallery events and exhibits, other galleries, art organizations, dealers, and artists, including Katherine Dreier. View Finding Aid

Gordon B. Washburn (1931–1942) [AK2.5]

Gordon Washburn’s directorship is marked by the rapid expansion of the Albright Art Gallery, including educational outreach and the founding of the Gallery Library. Of particular note is Washburn’s collaboration with patron Seymour H. Knox II in establishing the Room of Contemporary Art and the growth of the art collection.  Correspondence documents Gallery operations and acquisitions, other galleries, dealers, collectors, and artists. Considerable correspondence records Washburn’s relationships with Professor Paul Sachs and dealer Stephan Bourgeois. View Finding Aid

Andrew C. Ritchie (1942–1949) [AK2.6]

Many major permanent Gallery acquisitions and important exhibitions occurred under Andrew C. Ritchie’s stewardship. These include: Seurat’s Study for Le Chahut, Gaugin’s The Yellow Christ, Tanguy’s Indefinite Divisibility, Chagall’s L’Acrobat, the Maillol Memorial Exhibition, and the industrial arts exhibit Good Design is Your Business. Ritchie directed the Gallery during World War II. As such, his records include details of the Gallery’s participation in the war effort, and Ritchie’s experience as a “monuments man,” recovering stolen art from the Nazis. Gallery operations are also covered, as well as correspondence with other museums, dealers, and artists. View Finding Aid

Edgar C. Schenck (1949–1955) [AK2.7]

Expansion of the Albright Art Gallery continued under Edgar C. Schenck, with the addition of the first curatorial staff to the Gallery, lectures, and concert programs. Records contain correspondence documenting Gallery events, exhibits, and staff, other galleries and organizations, artists, and substantial letters with sculptors Jacques Lipchitz and David Smith, and dealer Martha Jackson. View Finding Aid

Gordon M. Smith (1955–1973) [AK2.8]

Gordon M. Smith increased the Gallery’s collection of contemporary art and transformed the Gallery from a regional art museum to that with an international standing. Documents include correspondence with artists Mark Rothko and Jim Dine. Records also pertain to the addition and renovation of the Gallery building, designed by Gordon Bunshaft. View Finding Aid

Robert T. Buck, Jr. (1973–1983) [AK2.9]

Under Robert T. Buck, Jr.’s administration, the Gallery’s education programs strengthened considerably. Buck also oversaw the publication of the collection catalogue Painting and Sculpture, from Antiquity to 1942. Documents include notable correspondence with Richard Diebenkorn, Jean Dubuffet, and Carl Andre. View Finding Aid