About the Campaign
About the Campaign

JAHA is working to refurbish and renovate the Johnstown Flood Museum, the city's flagship tourist attraction.

For the Future: A Campaign for the Johnstown Flood Museum
For The Future: A Campaign for the Johnstown Flood Museum" announced 


The Johnstown Area Heritage Association (JAHA) is working on "For the Future: A Campaign for the Johnstown Flood Museum," a $3.45 million campaign to renovate and refurbish Johnstown's flagship tourist attraction, and provide marketing support.

The campaign kicked off with a major donation from Richard King Mellon Foundation of Pittsburgh, which has committed $750,000. Dale Oxygen and the Harry and Mary Ann Bennear family have made a lead local gift of $25,000.

"It's a fitting time to be able to make this major announcement," said Mark Pasquerilla, chairman of the JAHA board of directors. "We're grateful to the Mellon Foundation for this lead gift, and we're counting on the community's support as the campaign continues."

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The Johnstown Flood Museum has hosted some 850,000 visitors since it reopened in 1989 following an extensive renovation. The museum renovation was very successful, and included the commissioning of an Academy Award-winning documentary. Historian David McCullough called the museum "one of the best regional history museums in the country."

However, long-term exhibitions and building systems are now 25 years old and are showing their age.

"This has been a difficult economic period for non-profit organizations, especially museums," said Richard Burkert, JAHA president and CEO. "The Johnstown Flood Museum tells an incredibly important story, and we're committed to continuing to tell it for a whole new generation. This campaign will help us do that."

The project will completely redo permanent exhibitions, and replace the building's electrical and HVAC systems. In fact, the renovated building's new electrical and HVAC systems will be LEED compliant, a standard for energy efficiency.

The team that will plan and oversee the building rehabilitation and exhibition upgrades and replacement include Springboard Design (exhibition and architectural design), CJL Engineering (HVAC and electrical systems), and The Magic Lantern (audio-visual production).

Springboard has extensive relevant experience creating successful museum architecture and related cultural facilities. CJL Engineering is a multi-disciplinary engineering firm with extensive experience with cultural projects including the Benedum Theater, Byham Theater, Soldiers and Sailors Hall, Old Economy Village, and the University of Pittsburgh Nationality Rooms. The Magic Lantern specializes in museum installations, and created the "Mystery of Steel" presentation shown at the Heritage Discovery Center.

Construction will encompass upgrading obsolete electrical, lighting and HVAC systems; upgrading exterior building elements, such as windows and doors; upgrading architectural finishes; elevator upgrades; establishing a new entry sequence and creating new exterior signage to improve the museum's presence and visibility; and re-planning and renovating third floor meeting space for meetings, activities, workshops and temporary exhibitions.

New exhibitions will incorporate interactive digital technology, making them more compelling while allowing ongoing changes to exhibition content. Digital technologies will include augmented reality and the use of 3D imaging. Through the use of an iPad or smart phone, guests will be guided through the Flood story by a virtual version of several of the pivotal characters in the event, including the Rev. David Beale, one of the most famous flood survivors.

New artifacts and materials will be used in the museum exhibitions, too. These include the Rev. David Beale collection, which was first discovered in 2007.

The large light- and sound-animated terrain map/model of the floodwave's path that is part of the museum's first floor will receive new digital operating systems and audio-visual displays.

The large sculptural wall representing the Johnstown Flood will remain, as will the theatre and Academy Award-winning film. In 2011, the theater was rehabilitated with new carpeting, seats and sound system, and the film transferred to high-definition digital format with captions.