News & Events - Press Releases

5. Erie Art Museum

Press Contact: Carolyn Eller, (814) 459-5477

Web Site:

photo of a girl looking at a painting in a gallery
Left to right: Community Member Victoria Angelo, Director John L. Vanco, and Susan Hildreth. Click image to access full-size version.

From its beginnings as an artist’s association, Erie Art Museum has grown to encompass five historic buildings connected in a single complex offering art exhibitions and classes as well as music and dance programs. No other comprehensive arts facility exists in northwestern Pennsylvania. In addition to serving some 400 artists each year, the museum also provides programs that engage teachers, students, and a public representing many nationalities and incomes. Recognized for excellence in providing traditional museum exhibit experiences, the museum also reaches beyond its doors to challenge the perception of what constitutes art and serve its community in innovative and inspiring ways. Among its programs is Old Songs: New Opportunities. This program not only generates jobs for women in Erie’s large refugee population but provides an avenue for them to preserve and share their culture and traditions. In partnership with Erie’s revitalization efforts, the museum also participates in LeapFrog and GoFish, in which artists decorated and installed large-scale frogs and fish in the downtown area.

Community Member: Victoria Angelo
Victoria Angelo came to Erie (and the United States) in 2003 with her husband and family as a refugee from Southern Sudan. She has ten children; several are adopted from her siblings who died in Sudan’s civil war. Victoria became involved with the Erie Art Museum in 2004 as part of the Old Songs New Opportunities Project, where she learned how to work in an American daycare setting and how to use her traditional African song and dance on the job. She immediately gained full-time employment as a result of this program. Since 2004, she has presented numerous workshops, demonstrations, classes, and performances at the Erie Art Museum, all on traditional Acholi song and dance. She is now one of the 30 artists featured in the museum’s exhibit, Making It Better: Folkarts in Pennsylvania Today.

U.S. Representative Mike Kelly (R_PA_03):
"The Erie Art Museum is an invaluable asset to the Erie community, offering the types of educational, cultural, and artistic experiences that elevate and inspire the human spirit. As a vital part of Erie’s city center, the Erie Art Museum also serves as a place where people from all walks of life can come together to celebrate Erie's rich and diverse heritage. Congratulations on earning this prestigious award, and thank you for providing Northwestern Pennsylvania with such an important community resource."

Next Winner: Hill Museum & Manuscript Library