Erie Art Museum

Erie Art Museum Takes Environmental Initiative by Becoming Erie's First LEED Building

By Sherry Ziesenheim 
GreenEriePA Writer

The Erie Art Museum has been an unexpected leader in the Erie community for environmental responsibility. You might wonder what the connection is between art and the environment, but Carolyn Eller, director of marketing and public relations for the museum says, it doesn't matter "It is our responsibility to address global environmental issues on the levels that we can." Eller and Museum Director John Vanco believe the Erie Art Museum can make an environmental difference. They are proud and excited to educate the Erie community on how this can be done. The Erie Art Museum was the first LEED certified Building in the City of Erie. The museum currently holds a gold level LEED certification and has plans underway - including solar panels on the roof - to achieve platinum-level certification. Museum staff work daily to incorporate environmental standards in to both the presentation and preservation of art. Many examples of this environmental responsibility are apparent throughout the museum and its practices.

The main walls in the gallery are movable, making it no longer necessary to tear down an exhibit and rebuild in order to showcase new exhibits as they come into the museum. Walls can be angled and moved in and out of the gallery depending upon the needs of each exhibit. When it does become necessary to rebuild segments of the gallery, only non-VOC (Non- Volatile Organic Compound) paint and environmentally friendly cleaners are allowed. The museum also incorporates lighting sensors to control the energy use in the building. Further, the museum utilizes high efficiency light fixtures and bulbs in its galleries. 

When the museum remodeled, it received the GreenSite Project of the Year award in the Institutional category for the polished concrete floor completed in July 2010. Over 90% of the waste materials associated with this reconstruction were recyclable. The museum also won the National Medal for Museum and Library Service in 2011 for its innovative engagement in the community through economic, civic, educational, and environmental contributions.

The museum is also committed to demonstrating its dedication to environmental sustainability in its everyday activities. No product from the museum's Wave Café will find its way into a landfill. Food waste is composted, and even food storage, signage, and silverware are all fully compostable cornstarch-based materials. The museum holds others to this standard as well. Food vendors at the annual Erie Art Museum Blues & Jazz Festival are also required to serve their wares in fully compostable materials if they wish to participate in the event. 

In addition to advocating green practices at the Erie Art Museum Blues & Jazz Festival, the museum looks for other ways to educate the community. The museum has designed a paneled Green Tour of its gallery and facility. The tour is traditionally self-led, but organized tours can be requested for groups such as scouting troops, field trip organizations, and school programs. 

Artistic Bike Racks are starting to decorate the downtown Erie landscape. In the ultimate combination of art and the environment, the museum spearheaded a design competition for artistic bike racks that, once produced, are intended to encourage biking rather than driving to downtown destinations. 

You can become a green member of the Erie Art Museum for an additional $10 per year above regular membership. In exchange, you will receive newsletters and other print production only in electronic form. Any additional dollars from these donations are used to fund other green projects at the museum. Check the Erie Art Museum's calendar or visit the museum today to experience and learn more about this exemplary leader in Erie green initiatives.

Website and Contact Information

411 State St.
Erie, PA 16501
Ph: (814) 459-5477