Forget the ho-hum handshakes. The Erie Art Museum
is having a free all-day public celebration to officially kick off the construction of the Erie Art Museum’s $9 million expansion and renovation on May 8, 2009 at 1:30 p.m. in the Erie Art Museum Annex parking lot at 20 East 5th Street. Additional public events include free admission to the Erie Art Museum from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. & again from 7-9 p.m. for the Museum’s Last Bash in the Annex. Erie band the Heliotropes will entertain, visitors will make their mark on construction fencing and sheetrock, and visitors will get the first glimpse at the bright ideas of area inventors in the InnovationErie: Design Competition exhibit.
“Our groundbreaking is the result of efforts of a wide range of community members who have understood the value and impact of this project. But, there is still more to be done to ensure that the expansion achieves its potential to enrich a community and the lives of generations to come,” said Vanco.
According to Vanco, the Erie Art Museum has already secured $7.2 million in public and private funding for the $9 million expansion and renovation project including $3.5 million from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and $1 million from the Erie Art Museum’s Board of Directors. An additional $2 million of a $3 million endowment goal has been secured for the Erie Art Museum’s long-term financial security.
The Erie Art Museum’s renovation and expansion project includes the renovation of an existing 15,000 square feet of building space and the addition of 10,000 square feet. The project consists of a link between the Art Museum’s main building (Old Custom House) on State Street and the Museum Annex, which fronts on both State and Fifth Streets. Included will be four major galleries, a number of smaller galleries, a 250-person performance space, a public meeting space at a new unified entrance, and other visitor amenities.
The $6 million construction budget includes a total of 16 construction contracts that have been awarded to regional companies and will employ 45 workers for a period of 18-months.
The project architect is EDGE Studio, an award-winning Pittsburgh-based firm that focuses on the role that design plays in shaping experience and perception and construction manager is Spaulding Banks Project Management, an Erie-based firm with more than 30 years experience in the field, will oversee the daily construction process.
“Governor Rendell and other state legislators recognize the Erie Art Museum as a regional asset and have supported our project accordingly. Our request to the Commonwealth for $3.5 million in public funding resulted in Governor Ed Rendell’s release of a state capital grant for $1.5 million in 2006 and an additional $2 million last year. Senator Jane Earll also secured an additional $500,000 in 2006,” said Vanco. “We have also received significant pledges from individual donors, businesses and foundations. We have also closed on the property transfer of the former Erie County Historical Society State Street property.”
The acquisition of the 419-421 State Street property gives the Erie Art Museum custodianship of the most historic group of properties in downtown Erie.
“For decades now, the Erie Art Museum has served the state as property custodian of the Old Custom House, the property at 411 State Street,” said Erie Art Museum Director John Vanco. “We are now working with the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission to transfer permanent ownership to the Art Museum of both the Custom House and the Cashier’s House, 417 State (the building between the Custom House and the 419 State Street property). We take this responsibility with honor and commitment.”