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Greensburg art museum focuses on bringing in first-timers

| Monday, July 7, 2014, 11:09 p.m.
Austin Bachand | Tribune-Review
Claire Ertl, the new director of marketing and public relations for the Westmoreland Museum of American Art, stands in front of the artwork “Heat Lightning” by Robert F. Allen at the museum's temporary location along Route 30 in Hempfield.
Austin Bachand | Tribune-Review
Claire Ertl, the new director of marketing and public relations for the Westmoreland Museum of American Art in Greensburg, stands in front of a painting and diorama of the ongoing museum expansion.

Claire Ertl wants to attract first-time visitors to the expanded Westmoreland Museum of American Art when it opens next year.

Ertl, 36, of Shaler has begun working as director of marketing and public relations for the Greensburg museum, which is undergoing a $20 million renovation.

“It's a really exciting time to be here at the museum in this transformative time in its history,” Ertl said.

The construction will expand the museum by 13,000 square feet, with galleries, classrooms and studios.

The grounds will be transformed with native plants and trees, a meadow and three interconnected walkways. A parking lot is part of the plans, along with enhanced visibility of the museum from North Main Street and North Maple Avenue.

The museum is planning a gala event before the grand reopening and will undergo a “rebranding” that includes a new logo, which is in development, Ertl said.

Other plans are being formulated for raising funds and increasing awareness and attracting patrons to the museum, she said.

“I think with the reopening we have the opportunity to do an expanded marketing campaign ... to hopefully attract a new audience,” Ertl said.

Ertl has a bachelor's degree in studio art from Denison University in Ohio. She has worked with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra as senior director of marketing and sales and in the marketing department of the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre.

“I'm absolutely delighted to be at the Westmoreland museum. With my educational background in studio art, this is really a perfect fit,” Ertl said.

“We are very happy to have Claire join the Westmoreland team at this important and transformational time in our history,” said Judith O'Toole, museum director and chief executive officer.

“Her extensive arts marketing experience will serve us well as we work to spread awareness about our current ‘Imagine What's Possible' capital and endowment campaign,” O'Toole said.

More than $21 million has been raised or pledged for the $38 million campaign.

As part of that effort, museum officials have sent mailings to past supporters and are reaching out to businesses and individuals, Ertl said.

A temporary site, called Westmoreland @rt30, will operate on Route 30 in Unity until the Greensburg museum reopens.

The museum is promoting its Pop Up Exhibitions that showcase local artists — currently Robert F. Allen and Jeff Brunner — and Art on Tap happy hour events the second Friday of each month.

Until Aug. 31, the museum is hosting the Associated Artists of Pittsburgh Annual Exhibition, the oldest and longest continuing survey of regional art in the country. The works of Henry Koerner, Samuel Rosenberg, Philip Pearlstein, Jonathan Borofsky, Peter Muller Munk, Virginia Cuthbert, Mary Cassatt and Andy Warhol have been part of past exhibitions.

Bob Stiles is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-836-6622 or

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