Erie Art Museum director no longer with museum

Local News

After an article in Friday’s New York Times painted a troubling picture of the Erie Art Museum director, the museum’s board announced today that Joshua Helmer will no longer serve as the museum’s director.

A brief statement released by the board says,

“Joshua Helmer is no longer employed at the Erie Art Museum. The museum appreciates, in advance, the community’s support as we move forward.”

Kathleen DiPrinzio started the online petition “Stop the abuse and predation. Fire Joshua Helmer, Erie Art Museum” just three days ago. It asks for 5,000 signatures.

DiPrinzio says she hoped the petition, that currently has nearly 3,000 signatures, would ultimately lead to Helmer’s firing, adding she was upset Helmer was employed by the museum in the first place.

DiPrinzio believes the support for the petition says that Erie residents will not stand for any form of harassment, further saying she hopes stories like this will help victims of workplace harassment come forward.

“I do think there is more of a space open for women to come forward when these situations arise when they are being preyed upon, when they feel unsafe in their work environment,” said Kathleen DiPrinzio, petition founder.

DiPrinzio made the following statement regarding the art museum’s statement, stating there are still more questions that need answered:

“Thank you to the board for doing the right thing and responding to public outcry. The community’s concerns, however, still remain relevant and we have questions that need to be answered. Why was he hired in the first place? These are questions that the board needs to answer and we won’t stop asking until they do that.”

Executive Director of Erie Arts and Culture, Patrick Fisher, made the following statement regarding Helmer’s leave.

“It’s critical that we remember that the legacy and impact of the museum supersedes any one leader. As an institution, the museum has quite a bit of reflecting to do as a result of this incident. Erie Arts and Culture encourages all in our sector to follow best practices and we are here to be a resource as the museum examines its bylaws, policies, and employee handbooks.”

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