Great Dates: High culture
Best for: Third date and beyond
Wanenmacher's "Of the Beasts" image supplied by Albright-Knox Art Gallery, all other images by kc kratt.
1. Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society
2. Burchfield Penney Art Center
3. Lunch at a museum café or nearby on Elmwood
4. Albright-Knox Art Gallery
A museum district date accomplishes several things, all of them positive. The idea makes you look worldly. (“I’m dying to see the Chuck Close again” has a much better ring to it than “Two for Battleship.”) It’s relatively inexpensive, as you’ll see. It’s a conversation starter. (“You and I will just have to agree to disagree on the success of the Pan-American Expo; one assassination does not an Expo ruin!”) It’s a great way to mingle with new people. And, quite honestly, it’s a chance to take advantage of one of the Queen City’s finest assets—its culture. It may sound stuffy, but it’s true.
The trio includes the Albright-Knox Art Gallery and the Burchfield Penney Art Center, with the Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society as your ideal starting point. While some don’t find history particularly romantic or interesting (history will record them as idiots), it offers a proper context for everything you’ll see later, from the city’s role as an industrial linchpin for the East Coast to its continued importance as a center for art and culture. In many ways, the roots for the very existence of the AKAG and BPAC can be found in these walls.
Permanent displays at BECHS feature the Pan-American Exposition, Buffalo industry, and the people who settled here (and where they came from). This summer a temporary exhibition explores Western New York’s role in the civil rights movement nationwide.
Across the street and a few blocks south, you’ll find the Burchfield Penney Arts Center. There are always a few galleries devoted to the center’s raison d’etre, Charles Ephraim Burchfield, a fascinating midcentury painter whose work is impossible to pigeonhole and thus provides great conversational fodder. Elsewhere, the museum’s ever-changing exhibition schedule features the region’s most interesting artists.
At this point, lunch is advisable. Both BPAC and the Albright-Knox have excellent cafés, while Coles, India Gate, Panos, and other Elmwood Avenue favorites are a few easy blocks away.
For a grand finale, the Albright-Knox Art Gallery always impresses. It’s pretty great. (Understatement of the decade.) Even if you have seen the greatest hits (de Kooning, Rothko, Gauguin, Picasso, much more), there are two new exhibitions running past the end of summer: Beauty, Life, and Spirit: A Celebration of Greek Culture, an exhibition created in partnership with the Buffalo Museum of Science, and DECADE: Contemporary Collecting 2002–2012, an exploration of the gallery’s recent collecting history, which starts on August 21.
The museum district—and with three in such close proximity, it truly does constitute a district—is ideal for a whatever-the-weather date. At the very least, this convergence (Pollock pun intended) of cultural treasures will leave you both proud of where you live, and you can’t say that about a night with KISS and Mötley Crüe at Darien Lake.