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.
Glass Growers Gallery covers its walls and pedestals with works by more than 100 regional artists and hosts regular art exhibits and other events. Functional pieces include pottery, jewelry, and lamps ($5+); prints ($5+) provide inquisitive onlookers with windows into worlds in which people and animals move in slower-than-slow motion. Glass Growers Gallery also creates commemorative wall reliefs, sculptures, and personalized awards to help illustrate customers' appreciation for coworkers, teammates, and fellow award enthusiasts.
For more than 30 years, the certified picture framers of Rossier's Art Gallery have paired treasured art and collectibles with custom framing. Choosing from a wide selection of frames and mats, frame fashioners can house anything from prints or paintings to Junior's first speeding ticket using acid-free materials that help extend the life of precious works of art ($50+). The gallery also frames memorabilia, such as Steelers' jerseys or hard hats swiped from Steely McBeam. Rossier’s picture pros are happy to visit homes or offices for a free consultation on the best style of frame or a philosophical discussion on whether a collection of pencil shavings deserves to be displayed prominently. While dropping art off at Rossier’s, peruse the store’s art gallery, which showcases oils, watercolors, etchings, wire sculpture, blown glass, and more ($35+).
Rising six floors above the historic Strip District, the Senator John Heinz History Center's handsome, redbrick exterior houses 275,000 square feet of exhibits and materials devoted to Western Pennsylvania. Long-term exhibits include From Slavery to Freedom, which traces the quest for equality from the antislavery movement to the modern struggles for Civil Rights, using indenture, manumission, and freedom papers from the Allegheny County recorder of deeds as starting points. Pittsburgh: A History of Innovation highlights the land's original inhabitants, the journey of Lewis and Clark, and the modern superhighways, whereas the Western Pennsylvania Sports Museum delves into the history and lore of local athletics, from the Steelers’ Immaculate Reception to Bill Mazeroski's title-clinching home run in game seven of the 1960 World Series. The museum also hosts nationally renowned traveling exhibits; its current offering is 1968: The Year That Rocked America which explores this decade-defining year using evocative objects, multimedia displays, and more than 100 artifacts related to 1968’s seminal moments.