The University at Buffalo (UB) Libraries, home to the world’s largest and most comprehensive collection of materials by and related to author and poet James Joyce, has received $10 million in funding from New York State for the construction of the UB James Joyce Museum. 

The facility aims to attract a broad global audience to discover and experience the achievements of the renowned Irish author, widely recognized as the most influential literary figure of the 20th century.

The funding, a capital-project priority for UB, was secured through the advocacy of New York State Senator Tim Kennedy and with the support of Governor Kathy Hochul, and was announced today, June 16, at a news conference on UB’s South Campus.

“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 President Satish K. Tripathi.

Sen Kennedy, whose district includes UB’s South Campus, has been a longtime supporter of the university’s Joyce Collection, bringing leading representatives of the Irish government to visit, along with distinguished members of the Irish American Diaspora. The collection highlights Buffalo’s rich Irish American legacy.

“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.

“This is an example of true collaboration, and it would not have been possible without the partnership of UB President Satish K. Tripathi, James Maynard, and the incredible team at UB,” Kennedy said. “I’m thrilled to be able to deliver this funding alongside Governor Hochul, and look forward to seeing this museum open its doors.”

It started out as “what if” & quickly turned into “we’re going to make this happen.”

Today I joined @UB_President, @IrelandinNY's Dermot Fitzpatrick, @GovKathyHochul's office & others to announce $10 million for the creation of the UB James Joyce Museum.

— Senator Tim Kennedy (@SenKennedy) June 16, 2023

The funding announcement was made on Bloomsday, the annual commemoration of Joyce’s life and career, named for Leopold Bloom, the main character in Joyce’s masterpiece “Ulysses,” perhaps the most important English-language novel of the past 100 years, with a plot that takes place on a single day, June 16, 1904, in and around Dublin, Ireland.

UB’s James Joyce Collection, currently housed within the UB Libraries’ Poetry Collection on the North Campus, is an unparalleled destination for scholars and visitors from around the world, UB said on Friday.

The UB James Joyce Museum will increase that visibility and expand public access to the university’s historical resources and literary treasures with a permanent exhibition space for visitors to study, learn and engage with these rare materials.

“On behalf of our entire university community, I would like to thank Senator Tim Kennedy for his enduring support of UB and our mission of excellence. I would also like to extend my gratitude to Governor Hochul for her commitment to amplify our impact as New York State’s flagship university,” Tripathi added.

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Since the arrival of the first archival pieces in 1950, UB’s 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, personal artifacts, as well as Joyce’s private library and the complete body of significant Joyce criticism.

“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.”

Under the guidance of Kelly Hayes McAlonie, UB director of campus planning, UB Libraries has been preparing to begin work on a design consultation that includes dedicating roughly 5,000 square feet of the first-floor atrium in Abbott Hall as exhibition space for the museum.

“Since its inception more than 85 years ago, UB has served as the library of record for 20th- and 21st-century Anglophone poetry,” said Maynard, curator of the UB Poetry Collection and coordinator of the UB 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.”

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

“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.

“We thank Governor Hochul and Senator Kennedy for their leadership and look forward to continue our work with them on ensuring that this collection is open to the world from its new home at UB.”

We welcome the news of funding for a @UBuffalo James Joyce Museum, which helps ensure the University of Buffalo’s world-class James Joyce collection will be seen by as many people as possible. 👏#Bloomsday2023

— Irish Consulate NYC (@IrelandinNY) June 16, 2023