The Buffalo AKG Art Museum is naming their new community gathering space after Buffalo Bill’s founder, Ralph C. Wilson, Jr.
The historic building, formerly the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, is currently under major renovations and is set to reopen in June.
Wilson, who died in 2014, will have his name on the 6,000 square-foot community gathering space located in what was previously an open-air courtyard of the building.
The space will be called the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Town Square and will focus on community engagement programming. The design includes a Common Sky, a kaleidoscopic sculpture by artist, Olafur Eliasson and architect, Sebastian Behmann of ‘Studio Other Spaces’ (SOS) that serves as a weathertight enclosure.
“Common Sky reflects the Albright-Knox Art Gallery’s vision of a twenty-first-century art institution that is open and inclusive for all, and honors the connection between the gallery and the surrounding,” notes SOS’s website.
“Reflecting the museum’s ambition to be more inclusive and invite anyone in with open arms, the design offers a communal space within the museum where visitors can gather to view art or simply spend time in a stimulating environment.
In addition to about $12 million in donations to the museum in recent years, The Ralph C. Wilson Foundation has pledged $500,000 annually in operating funds.
“It is difficult to overstate the impact that the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation has had on the Buffalo AKG and the entire Western New York region,” said Janne Sirén, Peggy Pierce Elfvin Director. “The Foundation has continued Mr. Wilson’s legacy of community-oriented philanthropy in a way that is genuine, impactful, and, for the citizens of Buffalo and Detroit, transformative and unprecedented. To put it bluntly, the committed and forward-thinking individuals at the Wilson Foundation don’t just talk the talk—they walk the walk.
The Foundation has committed to $100 million to transform the financial strength and long-term viability of art and culture in Western New York.
“Having Ralph’s name on the new Town Square at the Buffalo AKG Art Museum is an incredible honor and very fitting,” said Mary Wilson, Ralph's widow and a life trustee of the Ralph C. Wilson Foundation. "I look forward to this becoming a new cultural landmark in the city of Buffalo, bringing people together from all walks of life, just as Ralph did throughout his life!”
The Buffalo AKG Art Museum (formerly the Albright-Knox Art Gallery) is located at 1285 Elmwood Ave, Buffalo, NY 14222. The organization was founded in 1862 and is the sixth oldest public art institution in the United States. For 160 years, the Buffalo AKG has collected, conserved, and exhibited the art of its time, often working directly with living artists. This tradition has given rise to one of the world’s most extraordinary collections of modern and contemporary art.
The museum closed in 2019 for a $195 million renovation project. Admission will be free when the museum re-opens June 12.
Wilson’s name has been added to numerous structures in and around Western New York in honor of his philanthropy and community contributions.