Making It Better is an exhibition that tells the stories of over 30 master artists whose work can heal the sick, challenge social inequity, assist in meditation, and help communities both grieve and celebrate.  Coming from every corner of Pennsylvania, the art represents a wide array of traditions such as African dance, stone wall construction, Native American clay flutes, Pysanky eggs, contemporary blacksmith work, woodcarving, and Vietnamese funerary portraits.  All are integrated into people’s lives and important enough to be shared and passed on.  This exhibit demonstrates that although many traditional arts are rooted in centuries’ old practices; they are thriving and meeting the needs of communities today.

This website includes images of objects in this exhibit, biographies of all the artists, essays that offer in-depth explorations of exhibit themes, artist audio interviews, and resources for educators. While you browse, we invite all our visitors to think about the question:  “How do your artistic traditions make a difference?”

All exhibit sites will host a variety of public programming with local and regional folk artists.  Contact each site for information about their events.

January 15, 2010 – April 11, 2010, Erie Art Museum, Erie

May 1, 2010 – July 31, 2010, Gettysburg HAAC Campus,
   Hosted by the Adams County Arts Council, Gettysburg

September 1, 2010 – November 30, 2010, Rivers of Steel National Heritage Area, Homestead

January 2011 – February 28, 2011 Bottleworks Ethnic Arts Museum, Johnstown.

May 14, 2011 – August 28, 2011, Michener Art Museum, Doylestown

September 12, 2011 – October 23, 2011, Millersville University, Millersville, PA

November 19, 2011 – April 29, 2012, The State Museum of Pennsylvania, Harrisburg

* To book this exhibit email Amy Skillman at

Making It Better: Folk Arts in Pennsylvania Today was created by the Institute for Cultural Partnerships in collaboration with the Erie Art Museum, Rivers of Steel National Heritage Area, Northern Tier Cultural Alliance, Bottle Works Ethnic Arts Center, Community Partnerships Resource Conservation and Development Council, and with assistance from the Philadelphia Folklore Project.

Funding support comes from PicturePA, a program of the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, a state agency; the National Endowment for the Arts; and the Pennsylvania Humanities Council from their National Endowment for the Humanities’ We The People Initiative on American History.

Special thanks to all the artists for loaning their treasured objects and sharing their stories.  They play a vital role in our neighborhoods and communities, and they inspire the work we do.

Exhibition Fabrication: Erie Art Museum
Exhibition Design: Riverhill
Audio Production: Rivers of Steel National Heritage Area
Website Design: Erie Art Museum