Important first-step towards a new museum in Buffalo recently occurred, when the University at Buffalo Libraries received a $100,000 challenge grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) toward the design of a new UB James Joyce Museum in Western New York.
The UB Libraries is home to the world’s largest collection of materials by and about famed Irish author and poet James Joyce. A small part of the collection is on display in the Special Collections Library on the 4th floor of Capen Hall on the university’s North Campus.
Through the university’s $1 billion Boldly Buffalo campaign, the UB Libraries has begun fundraising to design the UB James Joyce Museum in Abbott Hall on the UB South Campus. By creating a museum, the university aims to attract thousands of visitors each year from across the globe to discover and experience the rare materials and literary life and history of Joyce.
The design phase, an early stage in the development of the museum, is estimated to cost $1 million.
The design phase, an early stage in the development of the museum, is estimated to cost $1 million. The funds will support the hiring of an architectural firm that specializes in museum design to ensure a premier, state-of-the-art and immersive visitor experience befitting the world-leading archive of one of the most influential writers of the 20th century.
Fundraising will also support a preservation and acquisitions endowment, a Joyce endowed curator position, and programming and exhibition funds. As part of the challenge grant from the NEH, UB aims to fundraise $300,000 to match the award three-to-one.
This project is a great win for Buffalo and UB, as it will to the city’s national reputation as an arts and cultural destination.
The UB James Joyce Collection collection of materials by and about Joyce, containing more than 10,000 pages of his working papers, notebooks and manuscripts, as well as photographs, portraits, memorabilia and his Paris library. The materials provide unmatched glimpses into the author’s writing process and literary relationships.
The collection has been a destination for scholars around the world for more than 70 years as Joyce is among the most highly researched literary figures.
The collection has been a destination for scholars around the world for more than 70 years as Joyce is among the most highly researched literary figures. However, a lack of adequate exhibition space has prevented the general public from accessing this significant cultural and literary collection.
“In celebration of the 100th anniversary of the publication of Joyce’s ‘Ulysses’ in 2022 and recognizing that we have a responsibility to make the collection more publicly accessible, UB is committed to creating the UB James Joyce Museum,” said James Maynard, PhD, curator of the UB Poetry Collection, the library of record for 20th- and 21st-century Anglophone poetry. “The design phase is the critical first step in bringing to life this vision of a new landmark attraction in Buffalo.”
A dedicated museum space will open the collection to visits by the public through permanent and changing exhibitions, extended viewing hours, docent-led tours and school trips, sophisticated digital displays and other programming.
The museum will also promote Irish heritage in Western New York by celebrating one of Ireland’s most significant cultural exports and providing Buffalo and its large Irish community with a notable, new Irish landmark. Joyce dedicated his life to writing about the city of Dublin and is inextricably linked around the world with the history and culture of Ireland.
Fundraising for the design phase coincides with the 100th anniversary of the publication of Joyce’s iconic book “Ulysses” in 2022, which will feature a global series of “Ulysses”-related programs, exhibitions and events throughout the year, including on Bloomsday. The international holiday, held on June 16 – the same day “Ulysses” takes place – remembers the enigmatic story of a day in the life of protagonist Leopold Bloom in Dublin. “Ulysses” is considered by many to be the most significant novel of the 20th century.