Tonawanda News — For Janne Sirén, his appointment as director of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo is a change from his homeland of Finland, and a familiar return to America.
Sirén, who replaced outgoing director Louis Grachos in early April, now runs what many consider to be one of the greatest repositories of modern art in the world.
“There are thousands of museums of modern and contemporary art in the world. We rate in the top ten in terms of collection. We have a robust acquisition budget that enables us to grow,” Sirén said.
At age 42, Sirén is tall and strong, a product of morning jogs and time as an Airborne Ranger in Finland’s armed forces, and he likes Buffalo.
“The ethnic restaurants ... New York (City) would be hard to display something like this, a new, emerging ethnic culture.”
He’s also a hockey fan, and says he’s a friend of Buffalo’s other celebrated Finnish import, Teppo Numinen.
His wife, Sonja, and their three children will arrive after the school year ends in Finland, but for now, Sirén is looking for a place to live and looking forward to commanding a museum whose mission he admires.
“This is everybody’s museum, and they should be proud of it. It has programs like Art Alive (wherein local students and other residents depict themselves as famed works of art on the Albright-Knox lawn, this year on June 1) and M&T First Fridays (a monthly nighttime event of concerts and hands-on immersion in art), a great roster of events that should open the museum to all audiences. For people from all parts of town, this is their common living room,” he said.
More so than sports or cuisine, art can build bridges, Sirén said.