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Westmoreland Museum Of American Art Grand Reopening

This weekend marks the grand re-opening of the Westmoreland Museum of American Art, a center of culture in Greensburg, PA. 

The museum was closed for two years while undergoing renovations.  It was temporarily relocated to a more centralized area along Route 30, which museum officials say was easier for patrons to find.

President and CEO of the museum Judith O’Toole, and museum curator Barbara Jones said that the temporary location brought different audiences to the exhibits and helped launch interest in the new facility.

Jones selected the art that appeared in the temporary location, a process which involved putting out a call for artists and having two pop-up exhibitions.  She said the pop-up pieces allowed for a dialogue and feedback between museum officials and visitors.

“It was really a fun thing.  It was a good way to keep people interested and coming back to the museum,” Jones explained.

The new east wing galleries include 16 foot ceilings, more natural lighting, and white walls. Jones says that this design is perfect for housing temporary exhibitions, and both contemporary and historical art.  Jones said additional windows open up the facility and hopes its exposure will ultimately draw in more art lovers.

“People just driving by the building will be able to look in, see what’s on the walls, and it’s a greater incentive to come inside than if you were looking at a brick wall,” explains O’Toole.

O’Toole admits that renovating a museum presents its challenges.

“We all took on a challenge when we went to the temporary location.  We realized that we were operating at about 70% while still building a building and planning for the future.”

The museum currently has a $1.5 million tourism impact, and is looking to expand upon that with the re-opening in order to cultivate the Greensburg economy.

O’Toole is optimistic about the future of the museum.

“We are the museum now that we’ve tried to be for a very long time.”

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