The Erie County Historical Society doesn't preside over just one museum—it maintains five of them. Of course, four of the museums are relatively small-scale, seeing that they're housed in former homes. Two homes from the Civil War era, known as the Battles Museums of Rural Life, feature historical gems as well as gardens and outdoor trails. Alternatively, the Cashier's House showcases relics related to the CFO of Erie's federal bank branch, who built the townhouse in 1839. At Watson-Curtze Mansion, the resplendence of the industrial era in Erie shines. And the Museum of Erie County History, exhibits pay homage to local history from pre-settlement to present day.
Settled between an 1839-built Greek Revival building known as the Old Customs House and a just-opened expansion building, the Erie Art Museum displays an expansive collection of American and international art and fosters artistic growth with a series of educational programs and thought-provoking shows. Along with free admission to exhibits, members enjoy invitations to exclusive special events, including a private preview of the 88th Annual Spring Show on Saturday, April 16. Discounted tickets to concerts and performances such as the Contemporary Music Series let membership-wielders explore the nether regions of audible art that allow for bobbing heads, tapping feet, and pumping fists. Members looking to live out dreams of becoming an artist can enjoy reduced tuition for the museum's art classes and workshops. Groupon buyers get a 15% discount off services from the Museum Frame Shop, and a 10% markdown on merchandise in the museum gift shop can help fill the registry for a wedding between an artist and the world's foremost collector of Pennsylvania-theme mugs.
Opened on December 4, 1974, Glass Growers Gallery began as a showcase for founder Deborah Vahanian?s three-dimensional works, which she fashioned from glass and silicone. These days, the gallery houses exhibits of other artists? handmade, decorative and functional artwork, including paintings, prints, pottery, and jewelry. Besides displaying and selling work, the gallery doubles as a workspace where Deborah and her team design everything from personalized awards to wall reliefs commemorating that day your teenager woke before noon. Deborah?s services are likewise available for overseeing and advising art-show selections, installations, and maintenance.
Claytopia's spacious studio gives children and adults a place to test their creative chops through the medium of clay painting. A wide variety of blank, premade clay bisques offer myriad canvasses upon which the fevered imaginations of patrons may be projected. Bisque prices range from $1 to $50 per piece, and an hourly fee applies ($6 per hour for adults, $4 per hour for children under 13) to cover unlimited use of all paints, glazes, stencils, stamps, and other instruments of artistic creation, including philosophical advice and painting tips from the talented staff. Possible paintable forms include coffee mugs, plates, picture frames, and Disney figurines. All bisques and paints are food, microwave, and dishwasher safe. After painting and glazing their piece of choice, art makers should allow a week for the bisque to be fired in the kiln and laid off from its part-time job before picking up the newly hardened artistic creation.
In the studio of Allen Stoneware Gallery, nine pottery wheels stand still, each waiting for a student to throw his or her first project. When pupils pour in, these wheels spin into action. Hands get messy, brows furrow, and vases spin into their intended shapes. After a trip to the kiln and a quick rub to free any accidentally-trapped genies, the dishes are ready to be taken home.
This is just one type of class offered at the Gallery, where artist Vickie Allen-Shea draws upon 38 years of art-making and art-teaching experience to make the community a little more vibrant. In addition to throwing and sculpting lessons, as well as casual BYOB workshops, her studio serves as a boutique. Shoppers can take home one-of-a-kind dishes and figures, or commission a custom-designed piece made to match their vision.
Three nights a week, black lights transform East Land Bowling into a surreal landscape, where smiles and white T-shirts glow. The festive lighting is part of glow bowling, which runs Tuesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. The rest of the week, glow-free bowlers roll strikes on the alley's 20 lanes and peruse the professional-quality bowling gear in the onsite shop.