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.

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Erie Insurance Donates $150,000 to Erie Art Museum, Names Education Wing

The Erie Art Museum received $150,000 gift from downtown neighbor, Erie Insurance. The gift was announced on Thursday, September 7th at a press conference in the Museum’s Main Gallery, with Erie Art Museum Board Members and Erie Insurance Executives in attendance. In recognition of the gift, the Museum will rename the education wing, The Erie Insurance Education Wing.

The gift brings momentum and excitement for the future of the Erie Art Museum. Susan Black-Keim, Interim Director said, “What a wonderful way to begin the next phase of EAM’s creative programing and service to our community.  Thank you Erie Insurance for your generosity, your partnership and your support of the EAM’s future success.”

The Erie Art Museum Board of Directors is thrilled that their downtown neighbor is interested in having a future hand in the cultural anchor of our city. Erie Art Museum Board President, Steve Porter said, “Speaking on behalf of the Board and the community we represent, we are grateful for this tangible show of support from Erie Insurance.  Even more important however, the Erie Art Museum and Erie Insurance are more than good neighbors, we are partners – working together to make our neighborhood the cornerstone of a diverse, livable and culturally vibrant urban core of Erie.”

Ann Scott, Manager of Community Outreach at Erie Insurance said, “Erie Insurance is proud to support the ongoing efforts of the Erie Art Museum as they continue to expand their presence in the historic Bonnell Block. We recognize and applaud the Museum’s work in advancing the visual arts through education, performance, and high quality art in all its forms. The Erie Art Museum is a treasure enjoyed by our employees and their families, our neighborhood, and everyone in the community throughout Erie County, Pennsylvania, and the country. We’re pleased to be able to help them continue to be a sustainable asset into the future.”

Erie Insurance has been a longtime supporter of the Erie Art Museum. Over the years, Erie Insurance has supported several Museum initiatives including; The Picture a Place Campaign, the EITC program (Comprehensive School Tour Program), Blues & Jazz Festival, Mid Day Art Break, Second Sundays, ARTrageous, and the Bike Rack program.

The 93rd annual Spring Show is a hectic but wonderful time at the EAM. Just as there is much that goes on behind the scenes to make the Spring Show successful, there is a behind the scenes bustle within the EAM community to prepare our first leadership transition in 50 years.

The Transition Team is currently interviewing candidates for the Executive Director position and planning a number of other activities to make the leadership transition as smooth as possible.

With have engaged a transition consultant to lay the groundwork for a successful transition— including an Organizational Assessment of internal operations, a thorough review of the Museum’s finances and an On-Boarding Plan to help the new Executive Director hit the ground running. We have formed a communications team to ensure we communicate effectively with our supporters and the public as we go through the transition. We have begun a special funding campaign to help support the transition and formed a Campaign Cabinet chaired by Herm Weber with representatives from the Board and public to guide the effort. To date the campaign has been largely internal (among current and former Board members), but you will be hearing more of this effort in the future!

Most importantly, the Erie community has been stepping up to do its part—interest in Museum programs is at an all-time high and support for our annual fund and ArtRageous sponsorships have exceeded expectations. On behalf of the entire Board, the staff and the broader community I want to thank each of our supporters—from our army of volunteers to our major donors—for ensuring that we as a community take responsibility for the future of the Erie Art Museum.

Stephen Porter
Board President

New Curator Hired

The Erie Art Museum is pleased to announce the appointment of Susan Barnett as the Museum’s new Curator. The new Curator position was created as part of the succession plan from the leadership of long-serving director, John Vanco. Although he has served for fifty years as Director and Curator, this combination of duties is highly unusual in a mid-sized Museum. Susan Barnett comes to the Museum from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where she has been working as an Independent Curator and Collections Manager. She previously served on the Curatorial Team at the John Michael Kohler Arts Center to research and develop a retrospective exhibition the Arts/Industry Program’s 40-year history, and co-author Arts/Industry: Collaboration and Revelation. Barnett also served as Director and Curator of the Cedarburg Cultural Center; interned at the Milwaukee Art Museum; and worked as a writer and nonprofit Board Consultant.

Barnett has an M.A. in Art History from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and a B.A. in Fine Art–Printmaking from Montana State University. Before moving to Wisconsin, she owned and operated a gallery in Butte, Montana, and served as Director and Curator of the Copper Village Museum and Art Center in Anaconda, Montana.

In addition to her professional experience, she is an avocational cellist and has served on the board of nonprofit arts organizations. Barnett looks forward to programming exhibitions in the Museum’s galleries and collaborating with education staff and other regional arts organizations.

Barnett has researched the mutual influence of mainstream contemporary art and the work of regional and self-taught artists. Many of the Erie Art Museum’s collections areas align with Barnett’s areas of expertise, such as photography, printmaking, ceramics, and contemporary craft. “I love the variety of contemporary and historic spaces in this museum,” she wrote. “I am impressed by the quality and breadth of the collection, and by the regional art represented in the Annual Spring Show. I look forward to learning more about these artists and their work.”

Erie Art Museum Names Susan Black Keim Interim Director
Board of Directors Extends Timeline on Search for New Executive Director

The Erie Art Museum Board of Directors has selected Susan Black-Keim to serve as the museum’s interim director as it extends the timeline on its search for executive leadership to fill the opening left with the retirement of current director John Vanco. Black-Keim will assume the interim role on July 5, and remain in that leadership position for six months.

“The EAM Board of Director’s Transition Team conducted a national search that didn’t reveal the right match for a replacement for John, in part a reflection of the high standard the board has set for the next phase of EAM leadership,” said Stephen Porter,
president of the EAM Board of Directors. “While we had hoped to jump right into new visionary leadership after John’s retirement, it is very common during director transitions to have a period of interim leadership to empower smooth operations continuing
organizational successes and momentum and paving the way for the next director.”

Black-Keim in no stranger to the essential role of interim leadership, having served as the interim Vice President of University Advancement for Edinboro University of Pennsylvania for several months in 2016. She is best known in the Erie region for her tenure as the Vice President of University Advancement for Gannon University, overseeing that university’s fundraising and alumni relations for nearly 10 years. While in that role, Black Keim implemented a $40 million comprehensive fundraising campaign and managed a staff of 15.

“Joining the dedicated EAM staff and Board is a great opportunity to serve a place I love.”said Black-Keim, who served on the EAM Board of Directors for three years, including one year as president. “I have faith in the dedicated and highly involved board of directors now in place, and I am confident that working together we can keep our museum on track during the transition period.”

Porter added that the EAM board is confident that under the interim leadership of BlackKeim, and with the support of the museum’s current staff and new curator, Susan Barnett, the EAM will continue to deliver the high level of artistic programming the community expects. “We are a strong and vital community asset and we look forward to continuing as an integral part of the rebirth of Erie,” said Porter.

The EAM and Erie community celebrated 50 years of inspired leadership by Vanco and his retirement during the museum’s second annual Artrageous event on June 10, which brought more than 800 attendees to the museum grounds to enjoy art in all its
forms, and to witness the renaming of Fifth Street between State and French as John Vanco Way. Vanco has served as the EAM’s first and only director after being hired in 1968. Under his inspired leadership, the museum has evolved into a nationally respected museum and a cultural treasure for Erie and the northwestern Pennsylvania region.

Plans for the selection of and transition to a new director at the museum began nearly four years ago, with a formal transition team taking up the reins full-time last fall in order to facilitate the selection process for a new director.