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Building Buffalo: Buildings from Books, Books from Buildings (March 2017 - March 2018)

Rare Book Room Display : Mainfloor, Central Library


Building Buffalo presents books from the Grosvenor Rare Book Collection of the Buffalo & Erie County Library that were generously given or carefully purchased to help Buffalo grow into a great metropolitan center. They were to provide the sources of knowledge with which the Buffalo Public and the Grosvenor Libraries, the city’s two greatest democratic cultural institutions (later brought together in the Buffalo & Erie County Library), could educate the city’s architects and its diverse population in the traditions of the world’s cultural riches.

In two respects these are the books that built Buffalo. They are part of the city’s growing cultural heritage, what turned the frontier village into a great city. And the ideas and images in these books supplemented the imaginations of the city’s architects as they built Buffalo. These are, in short, the books that record great buildings and convey great architectural ideas; they are the books that helped build buildings.

This exhibit was the idea of Nicholas Adams, Professor on the Mary Conover Mellon Chair at Vassar College, who offered to curate an architecture exhibit and enlisted, Francis Kowsky, SUNY Distinguished Professor Emeritus. The guest curators worked along with the full cooperation and assistance of Grosvenor Rare Book Room staff to bring this collection to light. It shows how the Library’s visionary supporters built Buffalo’s remarkable collection.  Much like the built heritage of the city around us, the books constitute a precious cultural resource matched by few other cities.