Today marked the unveiling of a new James Joyce mural in downtown Buffalo. The mural is thanks to the efforts of University at Buffalo, which is home to the UB James Joyce Collection, considered “the world’s largest and most comprehensive collection of manuscripts and materials by and about the famed Irish poet and author.”
The unveiling of the mural, in advance of Bloomsday (June 16), also signaled UB’s intentions to create a Joyce museum in Buffalo. The museum – which would house the impressive collection of rare materials, and recount Joyce’s literary life – would ultimately be built within Abbott Hall on the UB South Campus. The museum initiative is being led by UB’s Boldly Buffalo campaign. Funding for the mural came from the Office of the Consulate General of Ireland in New York, Amherst Gaelic League, and UB alumnus Alphonse Kolodziejczak, PhD.
The centenary: The mural arrives ahead of the 100th anniversary of Joyce’s landmark book “Ulysses,” considered by many to be the most significant novel of the 20th century.
The creation of the mural not only adds some visual and cultural appeal to the wall of 181 Franklin Street, it is also intended to spark interest in the literary collection, as well as the museum project.
“Our goal is nothing less than to invite the entire world to experience the literary life and works of Ireland’s James Joyce, while ensuring the continuation of the UB James Joyce Collection as an international destination for research and discovery,” says James Maynard, PhD, curator of the UB Poetry Collection and coordinator of the UB Rare and Special Books Collection.
“A permanent exhibition space would increase public access to our Joyce collection and enable it to have a larger and more impactful role in the local and regional communities, and to strengthen Western New York’s cultural tourism,” says Evviva Weinraub Lajoie, vice provost for UB libraries.
In attendance at the mural unveiling were local, state and international figures and dignitaries, including Consul General of Ireland in New York Ciarán Madden and New York State Senator Tim Kennedy.
“We are delighted to partner with UB to erect and unveil this mural. The links between Ireland and Buffalo, and Western New York more generally, are deep and longstanding; we will always celebrate them,” says Madden. “However, the UB James Joyce Collection is something distinct and special. Through its world-class collection about an Irish writer, UB is connected to experts and fans of Irish culture all over the world. With next year’s centenary of the publication of James Joyce’s ‘Ulysses,’ we hope that many more people will read Joyce for the first time, and through Joyce, discover this wonderful collection in the heart of Western New York.”
The public art component was made possible thanks to UB alumnus Frank LoTempio III, JD, and the LoTempio family who donated use of the LoTempio P.C. Law Group building. The mural itself (based on an archival photograph of Joyce from the UB James Joyce Collection) was designed by Kristopher Miller, UB Libraries web manager and lead designer, and installed by Rory Allen, owner of Buffalo-based ZoomCopy.com.
A global series of Ulysses-related programs, exhibitions and events will be held throughout 2022, including on Bloomsday (June 16), the international holiday that honors “Ulysses” protagonist Leopold Bloom.
Click here for more information on the collection.