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Petition forces exit of Erie Art Museum Director Joshua Helmer

An online petition against Erie Art museum director Joshua Helmer for his predatory attitude towards women forced his exit from the museum.

The story began from a New York Times story last week, which detailed multiple allegations of harassment against Joshua Helmer. The allegations covered both his current tenure at Erie, as well as his previous tenure as assistant director for interpretation at Philadelphia Museum of Art.

The primary accusation against him came from Rachel Nicholson, who was both his subordinate in the Philadelphia Museum and his romantic partner. She confessed that Helmer wanted to “break” her before he could “train” her, as well as multiple hints that she would have been fired if he didn’t love her. The 31-year old Helmer, who was once touted as one of the rising stars in the art museum world, had left the Philadelphia museum in 2018.

Shortly after NYT broke the story, Erie Museum gave out a statement:

“The Erie Art Museum Board of Directors takes seriously all allegations of misconduct. Prior to offering Mr. Helmer the position at the Erie Art Museum, the Board, with the help of an employment consultant, conducted due diligence including background checks. No issues were identified during our due diligence.”

However, this didn’t cool the public outrage. A petition was created on Change.org, asking for the removal of Joshua Helmer. The petition said that any contribution of Helmer to the museum pales in front of the damage he did to those women. In no time, the petition garnered 3000 signatures. It seemed to have the desired impact, as the Erie Museum shortly made a post on social media saying it no longer employed Joshua Helmer. The museum also thanked the public for its support in their endeavour.