About CEPA


Located in Buffalo’s historic Market Arcade Complex, CEPA Gallery is a full-service contemporary photography and visual arts center with impact in both the local and national communities serving approximately 300,000 individuals annually.

With four galleries of changing exhibits and events, multimedia public art installations, arts education programs, and an open-access darkroom and digital photo lab, CEPA creates a vibrant presence in the heart of downtown Buffalo.

CEPA Gallery, Buffalo NY - Interior

Our Staff

Meet the people behind Western New York’s most vibrant contemporary photography and visual arts center.

Meet the CEPA Staff »

Our Teaching Artists

CEPA is privileged to have an incredible group of teaching artists working with our staff and students through our arts education program.

Meet the CEPA Teaching Artists »

Our Board of Directors

Our current board is a diverse group of artists and professionals charged with safeguarding CEPA’s mission and visioning its future.

Meet the CEPA Board of Directors »

Our Funders

Whether national or regional, large or small, private or public, these funders recognize and support the important work that we do.

Meet the CEPA Funders »

CEPA’s programs are made possible with public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature and the National Endowment for the Arts.


CEPA’s History

Originally incorporated as the Center for Exploratory and Perceptual Art to serve as a community darkroom and exhibition space, CEPA Gallery was founded during the Alternative Space Movement in May 1974 by recent graduates of the University of Buffalo.

Throughout its history, CEPA has strived to reflect the creative priorities for working artists, while growing to accommodate the educational and social needs of Western New York’s diverse community. Over the years, CEPA has evolved into a nationally recognized arts center that is truly international in scope, but regional in spirit. It is now one of the oldest and largest not-for-profit photography-based arts centers in the United States.

CEPA remains dedicated to photography and the photo-related and electronic arts, and has developed its programs and opportunities to provide working artists, urban youth, and other individuals with the necessary programs and facilities for the production and reception of contemporary art.


CEPA Gallery, Big Orbit & Just Buffalo

The Art of Collaboration

CEPA’s merger with Big Orbit Gallery in 2013 is a further evolution of what is believed to be the nation’s first true administrative collaboration in the arts.

Established in 2001, CEPA’s unique partnership with Big Orbit included the sharing of staff, office space, and administrative resources. This collaboration expanded in 2005 with the addition of the Just Buffalo Literary Center. Since then, the three organizations have worked cooperatively to build capacity, reduce dependency on government support, and decrease administrative overhead through staff sharing, joint training, and collaborative programming.

This collaboration has received numerous national awards and has been recognized in multiple national publications in the fields of non-profit administration, philanthropy, and visual culture.

Our Future

CEPA’s merger with Big Orbit will create a major contemporary arts center in Western New York. With this expanded visual arts programming, we will maintain our mission-related focus on contemporary photo-related art, while its context and interpretation will expand to include Big Orbit’s penchant towards visual art, new media, sound, and installation art.

Together, CEPA and Big Orbit will reach approximately 300,000 people annually and will continue their shared commitment to serving artists and the artistic practice; to engaging audiences with exhibitions of interest; and to informing the larger not-for-profit cultural field as to what’s groundbreaking in the visual arts.


CEPA’s Statement of Purpose

Our Mission

To foster the exploration of photography and contemporary visual arts through its exhibition and arts education programs, nurturing creativity and encouraging active learning.

Our Vision

To be a globally recognized arts center and incubator of artistic creation, where our programs drive engagement with art as an essential facet of life and community.

Our Shared Values

  • Excellence. We strive to present unique programming of the highest quality.
  • Enlightenment. We encourage creative exploration by people of all ages and ability.
  • Inclusiveness. We welcome diversity, and protect its value by proactively seeking it out.
  • Forward Thinking. We never get too comfortable—because we choose to lead by embracing change.
  • Collaboration. We create opportunities through partnerships.

About Big Orbit   Join CEPA & Big Orbit

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CEPA Gallery  |  617 Main Street, Buffalo, NY 14203  |  (716) 856-2717
Big Orbit  |  30D Essex Street, Buffalo, NY 14213  |  (716) 712-4355
© 1974–2014 Center for Exploratory and Perceptual Arts, Inc. All rights reserved.