Renovated Westmoreland Museum of American Art Showcases Newly-Acquired Collections

  • October 20, 2015 15:17

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George Inness (1825 – 1894), Moonrise, Alexandria Bay, 1891, Oil on Canvas, 30 x 45 inches, Bequest of Richard Mellon Scaife, 2015.65
Westmoreland Museum of American Art

After a two-year renovation and expansion project tied to a $38 million capital and endowment fundraising campaign, The Westmoreland Museum of American Art marks its reopening in Greensburg, Penn., this weekend with special events and the debut of exhibitions showcasing the transformational gifts of two major private collections.

A highlight is the exhibition "A Passion for Collecting: Selections from the Richard M. Scaife Bequest." In 2014, the museum learned it would share works with the Brandywine River Museum of Art from Scaife's renowned collection. Some 71 artworks were chosen by Westmoreland in the first round of selections, and highlights are on view from Oct. 25, 2015 - Feb. 14, 2016.

Charles Courtney Curran, By the Lily Pond, 1908. Bequest of Richard Mellon Scaife.
Westmoreland Museum of American Art

Scaife, a billionaire publisher and heir of the Mellon and Scaife fortunes, died on July 4, 2014. During his lifetime, Scaife enjoyed living with his collection at his two homes in southwestern Pennsylvania as well as his homes in California and Massachusetts where he was apt to collect the work of regional artists showing scenes from those locales. This was especially true in Nantucket where he surrounded himself with nautical subject matter by both historical and contemporary artists. Among his favorite artists was William Trost Richards, known for his luminous seascapes. A broader selection of American art could be found at his homes in Pittsburgh and Ligonier.

Scaife’s extraordinary gift fills significant gaps in the museum’s holdings in the areas of Hudson River School painting, Boston school artists, American impressionism and marine painting. A stained glass window entitled "Moon Over Clouds" by John LaFarge will serve as a wonderful complement to the museum’s Thomas Lynch Tiffany Window, allowing visitors to compare Tiffany’s and LaFarge’s stained glass techniques.

Also of note is the Diana and Peter Jannetta gift of art from which selections will be on view (Oct. 25, 2015-Apr. 17, 2016) in a new permanent collection gallery in the east wing. In 2010, the Jannettas, who hail from western Pennsylvania, promised The Westmoreland a transformational gift—their collection of more than 100 objects of modern and contemporary American art.

The Jannetta’s gift was initiated with a fractional interest in Donald Judd’s Untitled, 1987 which, as of December 2013, became a full gift. Highlights of their collection include Kenneth Noland’s tranquil shaped canvas entitled Blue Wind, of 1977. A luminous painting by Richard Anuszkiewicz, a major force in the op art movement of the 1960s. Sol LeWitt’s exquisitely pure white geometric form, Pyramid #6, of 1986. And, a commanding blown-glass Chandelier, of 1995 by Dale Chihuly, a 2014 gift that will hang prominently at the museum’s north entrance.

Comprised of paintings, drawings, sculpture, prints, glass, ceramics and photographs, the Jannetta’s promised gift includes works by other such noted American artists as James Turrell, Barry LeVa, Dorothea Rockburne, Mel Bochner, Pat Steir, Ellsworth Kelly, John McCracken; glass artists Dante Marioni, Stephen Powell, Thurman Statom. As well as ceramicists Warren MacKenzie, Ed Eberle. Works by great photographic masters like Mathew Brady, Alfred Stieglitz, Edward Steichen and Paul Strand, among others, will substantially grow the Museum’s photography collection.

The Sky’s the Limit Grand Reopening Celebration includes special events happening this weekend on Saturday, October 24 and Sunday, October 25, 2015. On Sunday, October 25, a free Community Day from 11am to 3pm includes fun activities for the whole family. 

Judith O’Toole, The Richard M. Scaife Director/CEO, remarks, "After years of planning and two of construction, we are so pleased that The New Westmoreland is the museum we have always hoped it could be. The transformation of the existing building and the addition of a dramatic east wing, all set in a lush landscape, is breathtaking. The new and restored galleries are seamless, and the newly enhanced collections are impressive." 

Designed by Ennead Architects, the renovation and expansion of The Westmoreland creates a new face and identity for the Museum as a counterpoint to the original neo-Georgian structure, which has been preserved on the building’s north side. The result is an architecturally-dynamic building marrying old with new – all with transparency and accessibility in mind.

The museum’s transformation goes beyond the building itself to the site where a new landscape featuring indigenous plantings and intended for public enjoyment and community gatherings extends the Museum beyond its walls to connect the grounds to the surrounding neighborhood. 

According to Ennead partner Timothy Hartung, “Having grown up in the area, it is a personal honor to return and to be part of The Westmoreland’s future. Professionally, we have enjoyed collaborating with the Museum to create a building that enhances its position as a beacon for arts in the local community and a cultural icon for the region at large.” 

Renovation and Expansion Details

The Building

  • The existing 30,000 square foot building was completely renovated.
  • A 13,287 square foot east wing addition with new galleries and community and educational programming spaces was added to the existing building structure.
  • The addition is designed to achieve LEED Silver certification.
  • The transformational design was created by Ennead Architects (New York, New York) with team led by design partner Susan T. Rodriguez and management partner Timothy Hartung.
  • The cantilevered second floor gallery of the new wing provides expanded space for traveling exhibition display as well as new collection of post-1950 artwork.
  • The lower level of the new wing features a large community room for Westmoreland Jazz Society concerts, lectures and community and private events.
  • The renovation includes a dedicated interactive space, named the Center for Creative Connections, designed by Quatrefoil Associates (Laurel, Maryland) in coordination with The Westmoreland’s Director of Education & Visitor Engagement Joan McGarry to enhance the visitor's experience through hands-on activities relating to the permanent collection.

The Gardens

  • Designed by LaQuatra Bonci Landscape Architects (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania), a series of intimate gardens and outdoor terraces, fully ADA accessible, with native plants and trees, surrounds the building.
  • The gardens also feature seating areas and Wi-Fi access.
Tags: american art

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