ShareThis Page

Gala is planned to wreck The Westmoreland Museum of American Art

| Monday, July 1, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Sisters Shaina (left) and Savanna Stants, 5, of Ruffsdale play with hula hoops on the front lawn of the Westmoreland Museum of American Art in Greensburg during Family Day festivities on Saturday June 16, 2012. Barry Reeger | Tribune-Review
An architect's rendering shows how Westmoreland Museum of American Art will look from Main Street after a major expansion.

Smashing walls, throwing paint, dancing, eating — all things off-limits during a museum visit, until now.

The Westmoreland Museum of American Art will host its second Wrecking Ball on July 13. The evening may include a beautiful Gala and a swanky After Party, but it also offers the opportunity for guests to put on a hard hat and lend a hand in the final demolition. The fundraiser is the last event that will occur at the museum before reconstruction begins.

The first Wrecking Ball took place in 1998 to raise funds for a modest renewal and was such a success then that museum administrators decided to throw another to mark its upcoming project. The $18 million effort will consist of a complete overhaul of the main building, the addition of a newly designed LEED-certified east wing and a redesign of the grounds that will transform the visitor experience.

“It was kind of a sentimental thing to repeat it,” says Bree Larkin, manager of events and visitor services.

Founded in 1959, the museum has struggled to find adequate space for larger shows and the happily growing participation in educational offerings, even with the addition of the west wing in 1968.

Improved storage, better exhibition space for collections, and more room for educational programs and public gatherings are at the heart of the museum's renovation, says Judy O'Toole, the museum's director.

“We want the new space to say, ‘Hey, this is your museum, come in and take advantage of it,' ” O'Toole says.

According to O'Toole, plans for the new museum will cover all of those bases, and more. Updates include parking in front of the building, a unified office suite, Wi-Fi, and a grassy area with beautiful plantings and sculpture, not to mention a spectacular, high-ceiling gallery space for contemporary art that will overlook the hills.

O'Toole says she is most excited for the new gallery space, as well as for the two-part structure of the fundraiser, which has the more lavish Gala occurring first and the less formal After Party beginning around 9 p.m., a difference from the original Wrecking Ball.

Proper attire or a change of clothes is recommended, as guests will be invited to pound sledgehammers, splatter paint, take down walls, and learn to graffiti with local artists throughout the evening.

“We're just excited to have the chance to do something so different in the museum, like whacking holes in walls,” says Larkin, laughing. “We're hoping a lot of people will come out for this moment in museum, in Greensburg, history.”


Emma Deihle is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-320-7834 or

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.