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The John J. Albright Society

Edmund Charles Tarbell, Portrait of John Joseph Albright, 1914. Oil on canvas, 50 x 37 inches (127 x 94 cm). Collection Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Gift of Edmund Hayes, 1915.

The John J. Albright Society, named for one of the most munificent and forward thinking of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery's benefactors, recognizes donors who demonstrate Albright's confidence in the museum's future by making a planned gift. The gift may be a bequest, a charitable lead trust, the purchase of a charitable gift annuity, or naming the museum as the beneficiary of an insurance policy.

It is highly appropriate that a future-oriented group be named after John Albright, who assured the museum’s twentieth century achievements with his gift, in 1900, of the magnificent neoclassic building, now a national, state and local landmark, as well as a beloved and oft-used community resource.

Born in Virginia in 1848, Albright came to Buffalo in 1883 because of the western expansion of his wholesale coal business. He is credited with bringing the Lackawanna Steel Company, later a part of Bethlehem Steel, to this area. A pioneer in the development and distribution of electric power, he and his associates built the Ontario Power Company in Niagara Falls, Ontario.

Beyond having an astute vision for industrial growth in this area, John J. Albright was a great force for cultural and social development here as well. He funded the first community house, brought William Nichols to Buffalo to found a school, and became intimately involved in The Buffalo Fine Arts Academy. Elected a director in 1887, he served as president from 1895 to 1897, and remained on the Board until 1910.

In a short and straightforward letter to the Academy, dated January 15, 1900, Albright announced his intention to build "a permanent and suitable home . . .  exclusively devoted to art. . . ." He wanted the building placed on its present site in Delaware Park and he insisted on the development of a maintenance fund. Several years after the museum was opened, Albright further said that he would contribute $10,000 annually to this fund as long as he was able.

The gift of the museum building was huge; the recognition of the necessity of a maintenance fund was crucial. It was this kind of thinking by John J. Albright and his fellow directors that provided the keen fiscal stewardship that has remained with the museum and keeps it strong today.

If you are considering a planned gift to the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, or have already done so, we hope that you will contact our Membership Office at 716.270.8247, so that you can be included as a member of the John J. Albright Society.