The mission of the Erie Art Museum is to maintain an institution of excellence dedicated to the promotion and advancement of the visual arts by

  • developing and maintaining a quality art collection,
  • encouraging art in all its forms,
  • fostering lifelong art learning, and
  • building community among artists, art students and the public.

Virtual Tour


Transition Team:

(L-R: BJ Lechner, Rich Holmgren, Tammy Roche, Steve Porter, Patty Rich, James Parlin, Dr. Geoffrey Dunn and John Vanco, Director.)

After nearly 50 years of inspired leadership, John Vanco, Director will retire later this year. Succession planning for the museum began nearly four years ago, culminating with the recent formation of a dedicated transition team led by board member James Parlin, Department Chair of Edinboro University’s Art Department.  The transition team, comprised of board members and community leaders has been meeting since last summer.

Additional members of the transition team include: Dr. Geoffrey Dunn-UPMC Hamot, Rich Holmgren -Vice President, Creative Services, Erie Insurance Group, B.J. Lechner-Partner at Decision Associates M&A LLC, Kevin O’Connell-McInnes Rolled Rings, Steve Porter, Erie Art Museum Board President and Attorney, co-chair of the North West PA Green Economy task force, Patty Rich, MD Search Firm, and Tammy Roche-Vice President,YMCA of Greater Erie, Financial Development, Membership & Marketing,

The anticipated timeline for the search will bring potential candidates to Erie for interviews in the spring, and have a new director in place by summer. The new Director will be publically announced and John’s many contributions and achievements will be celebrated as part of the second annual ARTrageous event in June.  John will continue directing the Blues and Jazz Festival into the near future.

The Erie Art Museum and transition team will continue to keep the community updated on the process.

jv-head-shotThe coming year will be full of celebrations and transitions as the Erie Art Museum honors nearly 50 years of inspired leadership by Director John Vanco—and his retirement. It will also mark the 25th anniversary of an Erie music and cultural cornerstone, the Erie Art Museum Blues & Jazz Festival, which Vanco will continue to lead.

The museum will be honoring Vanco’s anniversary simultaneously with his retirement. Vanco’s many contributions to the EAM and the community will be celebrated as part of the museum’s second annual ARTrageous event on Saturday, June 10.

The EAM Board of Directors began implementing a comprehensive succession plan following Vanco’s announced plan to retire in 2017 after nearly 50 years as the strategic and innovative leader of the EAM. Vanco has served as the EAM’s first and only director since 1968. When he started, attendance was counted in the hundreds. Now the Museum serves over 65,000 people annually with its exhibits, tours, outreach, and music programs.

The Museum’s collection has grown from 65 works of art to over 8,000 and the Museum’s footprint has increased by an order of magnitude, growing from the house on West 6th Street to its current, state-of-the-art facility with 13 galleries, cafe, performance space, and classrooms.

“The Erie Art Museum and the communities it serves have truly benefited from nearly a half-century of stable, thoughtful leadership,” says Stephen Porter, president of the Erie Art Museum Board of Directors.

Succession planning for the museum began nearly four years ago, culminating with the recent formation of a dedicated transition team led by board member James Parlin, and comprised of board members and community leaders. That team will share regular updates as they lead the selection process for a new director, with the board’s choice for the position starting mid-year 2017. In support of the transition, Vanco expects to remain involved with the museum through August of next year.

Other celebrations throughout 2017 include the 120th anniversary of founding of The Art Club of Erie, the forerunner to the EAM. The coming year also marks the 25th anniversary of one of the region’s favorite cultural festivals, the Blues & Jazz Festival. Next year will also bring the announcement of a special funding campaign tied to both the transition efforts and future growth of the museum.

“Many nonprofit organizations are distracted by multiple leadership changes that impede a long-term strategic plan,” said Porter. “The Erie Art Museum has been fortunate to have made great strides because of John’s tenure, and we look forward to what the next phase of growth will bring.”

More information about ongoing celebrations of all these milestones will be shared with museum donors and members, as well as the general public, over the next few months.

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