Erie Art Museum Welcomes New Executive Director

New York native brings background in institutional change to region

The Erie Art Museum is excited to introduce its new Executive Director, Joshua R. Helmer. Helmer joins the EAM after spending the last four years leading institutional change at the Philadelphia Museum of Art (PMA), where he served as the Assistant Director for Interpretation. While at the PMA, Helmer was tasked with leading the museum in a complete rethinking of how it engaged its nearly 800,000 visitors each year.

“We could not be happier with the results of our search,” said Stephen Porter, President of the Erie Art Museum Board of Directors. “With Josh, we’re getting a leader whose passion and vision promises to take our museum to the next level. I am confident that he is exactly the type of dynamic, enthusiastic leader the Erie Art Museum—and our region—needs.”

“Joining the EAM was one of the easiest decisions I ever made. To be a great museum in the 21st century you need to be surrounded by a great community, because ultimately the arts inspire people to do great things,” said Helmer. “In Erie, I see nothing but great people and, therefore, even greater possibilities.”

Helmer brings a background in art history, earning his undergraduate degree from Hartwick College and a master’s degree from Syracuse University. In his first week at the museum, Helmer has started reaching out to the community, traditional and nontraditional museum-goers alike, to talk about their needs, the museum, and the future.

“Museums house art, but more importantly they can bring people together,” said Helmer, “people who would rarely connect or share experiences. I don’t know why, but the word that continually comes to mind when thinking about how our museum will evolve is together.”    

“The entire organization is energized by the potential Josh brings to our community,” said Porter. “We expect him to not only enhance the reputation of the Erie Art Museum as the cultural anchor of our region, but also position the museum to play a key role in the efforts to revitalize downtown Erie. In support of Josh, our board is committed to providing the strong leadership needed to support the success of the museum.”

About the Erie Art Museum

The Erie Art Museum anchors downtown Erie’s cultural and economic revitalization, occupying a group of restored mid-19th century commercial buildings and a modern, ‘Green,’ 10,500 square foot expansion. The newly expanded Museum marks the first LEED-certified building in the City of Erie.

The Museum maintains an ambitious program of thought provoking exhibitions, embracing a wide range of subjects, both historical and contemporary, including folk art, contemporary craft, and community-based work.

The Erie Art Museum also holds a collection of over 8,000 objects, which includes significant works of American ceramics, Tibetan paintings, South Asian bronzes, and American and European paintings, drawings, prints and sculptures.

The Museum offers several education programs and artists’ services including interdisciplinary and interactive school tours and a variety of classes for the community.

The Erie Art Museum is open Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday, 1-5 p.m. The Frame Shop is open Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Whole Foods Co-op Café & Bakery, located in the Leslie Lobby, is open Tuesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and on Sunday from 1- 4 p.m. For additional visitor information, visit online at ErieArtMuseum.org or call 814-459-5477.

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