By Mary Heyl

An enjoyable day of culture and imagination doesn’t have to be an expensive, far-away outing when you visit the Albright-Knox Art Gallery on the first Friday of every month! From 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., admission to part of the museum and select events are free for everyone, thanks to M&T Bank sponsored “First Fridays.” This is a great time to explore one of the oldest art galleries in the United States, and there’s still time to see the museum’s featured exhibit, “Picasso: The Artist and His Models,” on display through Feb. 19.

Founded in 1862 as the Buffalo Fine Arts Academy, the Albright-Knox Art Gallery is the sixth oldest public art institution in the country. At their first meeting in 1862, the academy’s founders agreed that a permanent home for the gallery needed to be established as soon as possible. The collection was housed in several temporary locations until John J. Albright donated the funds to build its permanent home at the turn of the 20th century. Architect Edward B. Green designed the museum’s stately Greek revival building with its iconic columns near Delaware Park, and the museum was named the Albright Art Gallery in 1905.

The museum’s growing collection required more space, and in 1962 Seymour H. Knox, Jr. donated the funds for a new wing. This modern-style wing was completed in 1962 and the museum was renamed the Albright-Knox Art Gallery. Since then, the gallery has not added any exhibition space to the building, although the museum’s collection has grown substantially since, acquiring over 5,000 artworks. Last year, the museum selected the architectural firm OMA to expand its campus—a much-anticipated addition to this beloved gallery!

So what can you and your family expect from a day at the AK? As part of the First Fridays activities, on Friday, Feb. 3, the AK will host a free Family Fun Tour from 11 to 11:45 a.m. to show families the works in the 1962 building. Also on Friday, the museum offers a free drop-in art activity for artists of all ages inspired by the museum’s current exhibits.

On the first Wednesday and the first Saturday of each month, the AK offers an Art Baby Stroller Tour, which is free with museum admission. This half hour tour offers parents, guardians, and caregivers the chance to learn about works of art on display in the museum while their young children (ages 0-24 months) to engage with the works by experiencing the colors, shapes, and tonal contrasts. In addition to encouraging young children to explore the sights of the museum, this tour also provides ideas for how to further engage children with works of art.

The museum’s three current exhibits are free to explore as part of M&T’s First Fridays. Visitors can expect to explore several different mediums, as art is not confined to paper and paint.

Visitors can explore the sculptures of Matt Hoyt, whose exhibit of over 100 objects has been six years in the making. “Stop Me If You’ve Heard This One: Humor and Satire from the Collection” is a unique exhibit comprised of different artists’ work in the AK’s collection. Artist Claudia Joskowicz’s video works “Every Building on Avenida Alfonso Ugarte—After Ruscha” will be show in a museum for the first time in the U.S. at the AK.

From now through Feb. 19, visitors can explore the AK’s featured exhibit “Picasso: The Artist and His Models.” This exhibit features paintings, sculptures, drawings, and prints by Picasso from the AK’s collection and famous paintings on loan from other museums in the U.S. and Europe. Special admission prices apply to this exhibit, as there are separate tours scheduled for this exhibit throughout the day.

The AK is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (closed Mondays). Regular admission is $12 for adults, $8 for seniors and college students, $6 for youth ages 6-18, and free for children 5 and younger, museum members, and active-duty US and Canadian Armed Services personnel and their families. Of course, museum admission and parking is free on M&T First Fridays. To learn more, call (716)882-8700 or visit

Editor’s Note: Once again, this year, SGI students’ artwork will be exhibited at Albright-Knox Feb. 28-March 19.