Canoe sculpture being moved for Albright-Knox expansion

Sep 5, 2019

There has been a change to Buffalo's landscape along Elmwood Avenue in front of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery. The museum's set to close in less than two months for a major expansion project. And as WBFO's Chris Caya reports, the prep work includes moving a highly visible artwork. 

The sculpture, made up of nearly two dozen canoes, that has been in front of the Albright-Knox since 2011 was removed Wednesday. Museum Director Janne Siren says it had to be done to make way for construction.
"Utilities and plumbing all need to be redone, so all that ground will be dug up. It is a new driveway. As you know, there is a plan for the underground parking, so that's where the underground ramp will then, in the future, be, according to the present plans," Siren said.   

The only way to preserve the artwork was to move it in one piece. So a large crane was brought in to lift the entire 25,000 pound sculpture off its base and onto a flat-bed truck. The artist, Nancy Rubins, was at the museum in mid-July to help select a new location.

The sculpture was placed on a flat bed trailer to be driven to its new location.
Credit Albright-Knox Art Gallery

"It's always a very big moment when an artwork, especially one that's located outdoors, changes location because the artwork's identity is very much borne not just from its materiality or its own outlook and appearance but really from its context in the landscape. So for Nancy to come here was a special moment for us," Siren said.           

The canoes will now live on the opposite side of the Albright-Knox facing Delaware Park.    

"I think it will be just a wonderful and magical experience for people to kind of draw the visual dialogues from the canoes with the water that's there and the rowboats you see on Hoyt Lake," Siren said.     

The Albright-Knox will be closing for the duration of its two-year expansion project starting November 4.