The University at Buffalo has received a federal grant to support the design of the UB James Joyce Museum in Western New York.

The University at Buffalo Libraries is home to the world's largest collection of materials by and about Irish author and poet James Joyce.

The university received a $100,000 challenge grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) toward the design of the museum, which is expected to be the first museum dedicated to Joyce in the United States. 

The UB James Joyce Museum was among 245 projects selected from around the nation for funding. The award, an Infrastructure and Capacity Building Challenge Grant, aims to leverage federal funds to spur nonfederal support for the humanities.

As part of the challenge grant from the NEH, the university aims to fundraise $300,000 to match the award three-to-one.

The design phase, an early stage in the development of the project, 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.

“Having distinctive scholarly treasures like our James Joyce collection elevates our libraries and enhances our university’s international reputation,” said UB President Satish K. Tripathi.

Irish author and poet James Joyce. Credit: Getty

Irish author and poet James Joyce. Credit: Getty

“We are so proud to be home to this unique trove of literary artifacts, which, for seven decades, has drawn visitors, dignitaries and scholars from all over the world to UB. Now, we look forward to showcasing this magnificent collection in a dedicated UB James Joyce Museum, which will contribute significantly to the cultural renaissance taking place in our region while greatly expanding the public’s access to the life and work of James Joyce.”

The museum is expected to attract thousands of visitors each year from across the globe. It will also provide the U.S. and Irish communities around the nation with a cultural landmark that celebrates Irish heritage and one of Ireland’s most significant cultural exports.

“The UB James Joyce Museum will provide UB the ability to highlight and share its James Joyce Collection with a broad global audience that has a curiosity and appreciation for literature, culture and history,” says Evviva Weinraub Lajoie, vice provost for the UB Libraries.

The UB James Joyce Collection is the world’s most comprehensive 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. 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.

To learn more about the UB James Joyce Collection and its campaign, visit the collection website.

Matching gifts for the NEH challenge grant can be made online to the James Joyce Museum Fund.