ERIE, PA.- The Erie Art Museum
will open the doors of its newly expanded $10 million facility, becoming the first building in the City of Erie to attain Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification. The building, designed by EDGE Studio of Pittsburgh, led by principal Anne Chen, will open to the public for free on its inaugural weekend October 23 & 24, 2010.
Achieving Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification is a particular challenge for art museums given the standards for art preservation. The new Museum facility boasts many environmentally friendly features such as energy-efficient heating, cooling, and lighting systems, a comprehensive waste stream control system, and a storm water management system that will return most of the rain falling on the complex to the water table, instead of the sewer system. The building will get a vegetated green roof in the spring of 2011.
The Erie Art Museum is unique among art museums in incorporating historical preservation, re-use planning, downtown revitalization, business development, community revitalization, environmental education and energy conservation into its business model. The Museum has embraced sustainable practices with its café operation, special event execution, and educational programming. One of the most innovative features are pivoting walls within the new Main Gallery, allowing staff to easily change the wall configurations to accommodate different exhibits, eliminating the waste from tearing down and re-building walls. Visitors can learn more by taking a green tour by visiting special stations throughout the art galleries and public areas. This simple factthat green buildings don't necessarily look different than other buildingsis one of the many important points the exhibits will make.
Museum Director John Vanco notes that the new facility is a not merely a grand addition to the regions cultural life: By building a green building, and instituting green practices throughout its operations, the Museum is lighting the way to the future for this community. Green buildings are an essential aspect of humanitys response to the monumental task of addressing global climate change.
The large-scale project, which broke ground May 8, 2009, combines 10,500 square feet of new construction with a 15,000 sq. ft. renovation of existing historic building space.
Sited on 5th Street, the new addition connects the Museums five historic buildings, tripling the gallery space. The new space will enable the Museum to showcase its permanent collection of over 6,000 objects, some of which has never been on public display.
The expansion also includes a new gallery for temporary exhibitions, a 250-person performance space, an outdoor sculpture garden, a public meeting space at a new unified, fully accessible entrance, a café and gift shop. Portions of the Museum will be available for private rental, providing a unique location for wedding receptions and other special events. The finished project drastically redefines the museum as a recurring destination for the community as well as visitors from across the region.
The Museum remains on schedule to secure its $10 million capital campaign goal, along with a prestigious $600,000 Kresge challenge grant.