UB Receives $10M for James Joyce Museum

The UB Library System, which houses the world’s largest James Joyce collection, has received $10 million in New York State funding for the construction of a new James Joyce museum. 

The announcement was made on June 16th at a news conference at Abbott Library on South Campus. The funding was secured through the efforts of New York State Senator Tim Kennedy, whose district includes South Campus.

“This funding is transformational for the preservation of Irish heritage here in Buffalo and all of New York State, and will allow the University at Buffalo’s extensive collection of James Joyce’s work to be truly celebrated,” Kennedy said. “I’ve fought for this state investment for years because I firmly believe the UB James Joyce Museum will attract visitors from around the world, and further strengthen the relationship between the United States and Ireland.”

UB’s James Joyce Collection, currently housed within the UB Libraries’ Poetry Collection on North Campus, is already a notable destination for scholars of the literary giant. The UB James Joyce Museum will expand visibility and public access with a permanent exhibition space for visitors to engage with the collection.

“Moving our magnificent James Joyce Collection to a home worthy of its renown has been a key goal for our scholarly environment, and doing so reaffirms the significance of this distinctive scholarly gem to our university, our broader community in Buffalo and Western New York, and our friends and colleagues around the world,” said UB President Satish K. Tripathi.

A capital-project priority for UB, the facility aims to attract global audiences. Under the guidance of UB architect Kelly Hayes McAlonie, UB Libraries has begun preparations for a design consultation that includes dedicating roughly 5,000 square feet of the first-floor atrium in Abbott Library as exhibition space for the museum.

“We’re thrilled that we can move forward with a permanent exhibition space for the UB James Joyce Collection,” said Evviva Weinraub Lajoie, vice provost for UB Libraries. “This funding will enable us to present these resources in ways that have an even greater impact on local, national, and international communities curious about the literary arts and the work of James Joyce.”

Since its humble beginnings in 1950, the UB James Joyce Collection has grown to include more than 10,000 pages of Joyce’s working papers, notebooks, manuscripts, photographs, correspondence, portraits, publishing records, ephemera, and personal artifacts, as well as Joyce’s private library and a complete body of Joyce criticism.

“We are delighted to welcome this news, which helps ensure UB’s world-class James Joyce Collection will be seen by as many people as possible,” said Helena Nolan, consul general of Ireland in New York. “In 2021, the Irish government supported the creation of a James Joyce mural in downtown Buffalo to increase the visibility of the UB James Joyce Collection.”

The museum is expected to attract thousands of visitors annually as an international attraction and cultural landmark. 

“Since its inception more than 85 years ago, UB has served as the library of record for 20th- and 21st-century Anglophone poetry,” said James Maynard, UB Libraries Poetry Collection curator and coordinator of the Rare and Special Books Collection. “This new state funding ensures the vibrancy of the UB James Joyce Collection and gives us an opportunity to now enthusiastically extend a global invitation to experience the life and works of Ireland’s James Joyce in what will be the UB James Joyce Museum.”