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Burchfield Penney Art Center

Inspired by Charles E. Burchfield's work, the 84,000 square foot Burchfield Penney Art Center at SUNY Buffalo State was designed by Gwathmey Siegel & Associates Architects LLC. The museum features numerous tributes to Burchfield's oft-noted love of nature, including open corridors, clear sightlines, and even ceiling lights arranged in the shape of the constellation Orion. In creating this indoor environment, the architects put as much thought into the placement of every wall, bench and window as Burchfield gave to every flower, tree and star in his paintings. 

Located on the corner of Elmwood Avenue and Rockwell Road, the museum is directly across the street from the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, in the heart of the Museum District and on the southeast corner of SUNY Buffalo State. It is the first "green" art museum in New York State - another fitting distinction given Burchfield's naturalist philosophy.

Architect: Gwathmey Siegel & Associates, Architects LLC
Principal: Charles Gwathmey
Groundbreaking: August 26, 2006
Ribbon-Cutting: September 5, 2008
Grand Opening: November 22, 2008
Cost: $33 million capital campaign (including endowment)
Total building size: 84,000 square feet


  • Total gallery space: 19,000 square feet
  • Number of Galleries: 11*
  • *East Feature gallery can be subdivided into several smaller gallery spaces as needed.
  • East Feature Gallery: 148 by 48 feet with a ceiling height of 28 feet, a total of 6,700 sq. ft.
  • Library, Archives Study Area: 1,050 square feet
  • Total Education and Program space: 4,500 square feet
  • Visitor Amenities: Museum Store: 700 square feet
  • Café: 600 square feet
  • Auditorium: 156 seats
  • Reception area: 2,800 square feet
  • Outdoor terrace: 2,000 square feet


The two-story Burchfield Penney Art Center makes a dramatic aesthetic statement externally with carefully selected materials and with a deliberate color palette. Internally, long, dramatic vistas and open spaces with purposeful contraction and expansion of ceiling heights are experienced. The unique facility marries the function of the art museum with that of a learning center. A long concourse that contains an 80-foot staircase is illuminated by four massive skylights. It acts as a gathering space while connecting the program areas with visitor service amenities. The building is a highly functional facility of related program components, strategic design of physical spaces, and a straightforward circulation system. Galleries are provided for collections as well as flexible, changing exhibitions. An auditorium, classrooms, museum store and café are located off the entry lobby on the first floor. The public reception room on the second floor borders an outdoor terrace. The boardroom and museum offices are accessible on the second floor via the grand staircase or elevator. Storage and service spaces are distributed on the first and second floors, providing critical adjacencies, but separating these functions from the public domain. 

The Burchfield Penney combines image, efficiency and flexibility into a composite assemblage. The building design is based on logical planning principles and creative massing strategies, resulting in a unique synthesis of form. The selected materiality (exterior materials include zinc, manganese glazed brick and cast stone) is intended to respond directly to the adjacent Albright-Knox Art Gallery and Buffalo State’s Rockwell Hall as contextual precedents, while creating a building that is articulated and modulated by its multiple forms, fenestration and detail.

LEED Certification

The Burchfield Penney was certified in February 2009 at the silver level by the U.S. Green Building Council – making it the first “green” art museum in New York State. To qualify for certification, the new museum met rigorous standards in the areas of site sustainability, water use and efficiency, reduced use of energy and atmospheric impact, use of materials and resources, improved indoor air quality and innovation and design process. In addition to its LEED certification, the museum will be a participant in the New York Energy Smart New Construction Program, meeting New York State standards to reduce energy usage and consumption.


  • Anthony J. Sisti Gallery
    Anthony J. Sisti Gallery

    The Anthony J. Sisti Gallery was named in thanks for a significant donation of work by Charles E. Burchfield, which Mr. Sisti kindly donated to the museum.

  • Atrium Corridor Gallery
  • Charles Cary Rumsey Gallery
    Charles Cary Rumsey Gallery

    The Charles Cary Rumsey Gallery is named for sculptor Charles Cary Rumsey (1879-1922). This gallery features sculpture and three-dimensional works of art, thanks to the support of the Charles Cary Rumsey Endowment.

  • Charles E. Burchfield Rotunda
    Charles E. Burchfield Rotunda

    Charles E. Burchfield wrote in his journals: "A note to Posterity—What I want is a circular museum, large enough to house these four season transitions..." (December 10, 1964).  

  • Charles E. Burchfield's Gardenville Studio
    Charles E. Burchfield's Gardenville Studio

    A permanent evocation of Charles E. Burchfield’s Gardenville Studio was designed in 1998 to capture how it looked during the artist’s last years.

  • Collection Study Gallery
    Collection Study Gallery

    The Collection Study Gallery provides context, insight and depth to the exhibitions on view in the galleries and the permanent collection of the Burchfield Penney. 

  • Conference Room 227
    Conference Room 227

    The Conference Room's views of the Richardson-Olmsted Complex and Buffalo State College are some of the best in Buffalo.

  • Corridor Gallery
    Corridor Gallery

    Supported by the generosity of Robert and Mary Ann Budin, the Corridor Gallery features exhibitions of works by Western New York artists.

  • Display Cases
    Display Cases

    Supported by Annette Cravens and Cindy Abbott Letro and Francis Letro, the Display Cases present three-dimensional works by Western New York artists or work from Western New York collections.

  • East Gallery
    East Gallery

    The expansive two-story East Gallery is the museum's largest exhibition space.

  • Entrance Gallery
    Entrance Gallery

    The Entrance Gallery is a flexible gallery which both introduces and provides context to the East Gallery exhibition. Occasionally, it is used to host an individual exhibition. 

  • Front Yard
    Front Yard

    Elmwood Avenue at Rockwell Road is no longer just another street corner. It’s the Front Yard at the Center—the world’s first permanent, environmentally-responsive, 24/7/365, outdoor audio and image experience.

  • John R. Oishei Foundation Gallery
    John R. Oishei Foundation Gallery

    The John R. Oishei Foundation Gallery is dedicated to the work of Charles E. Burchfield. The John R. Oishei Foundation generously supported the capital campaign to build the new Burchfield Penney, and this important gallery space was named in the Foundation's honor. 

  • Margaret L. Wendt Gallery
    Margaret L. Wendt Gallery

    The Margaret L. Wendt Gallery presents historic works by Western New York artists. It is named in gratitude for the Margaret L. Wendt Foundation and its support of the campaign to build the new Burchfield Penney.

  • Peter and Elizabeth C. Tower Auditorium
    Peter and Elizabeth C. Tower Auditorium

    The Peter and Elizabeth C. Tower Auditorium has seating for 156.

  • R. William Doolittle Gallery
    R. William Doolittle Gallery

    Named for R. William Doolitte, the Doolittle Gallery features photography (a love of Mr. Doolittle, who passed away in 2004) and historic works.

  • Reception Area
    Reception Area

    With its views of the East Gallery and Buffalo's Museum District, it is the perfect venue for your special event.

  • Studio Classroom
    Studio Classroom

    The Studio Classroom is the site of the Burchfield Penney's art workshops and children's camps.

  • Sylvia L. Rosen Gallery for Fine Art in Craft Media
    Sylvia L. Rosen Gallery for Fine Art in Craft Media

    Supported by the Sylvia L. Rosen Endowment for Fine Art in Craft Media, the Rosen Gallery presents work by artists skilled in craft media (including wood, metal, fiber, clay and glass).

  • The Grand Foyer
  • The Project Space
    The Project Space

    A unique gallery in the Burchfield Penney, the Project Space is a state-of-the-art installation gallery for three-dimensional installations and multi-media exhibitions. 

  • West End Gallery
    West End Gallery

    What was previously just the hallway leading to the Burchfield Penney Art Center Archives has now been re-imagined as a multi-use gallery space which will celebrate the Center’s archival holdings, community arts groups, and rarely seen works in the permanent collection.