The Westmoreland Museum of American Art has closed the doors on @rt30 as the staff prepares to move back to its permanent location.
The museum — which relocated to Route 30 in Unity for about two years — will remain closed until the grand reopening in Greensburg in October. “We just decided that a visitor to our temporary location would not have a good experience because we would be moving,” said Director Judith O’Toole. “It just made the most sense to go dark for a period of time.”
During the next three months, the staff will prepare for the arduous process of moving the museum’s collection and offices back to the renovated building.
“If you could imagine moving your house, but like 30,000 times worse,” O’Toole said.
The museum’s North Main Street location will have about twice as much gallery space because of its $38 million expansion. The building has housed the museum since its construction in 1959.
The museum will start moving its art collection to the renovated site in about two weeks.
Starting July 27, collections manager Doug Evans will have about three weeks to pack and move about 3,600 pieces of art. He has been working on the logistics of the move for some time.
“It’s all manageable,” he said. “I’m actually very calm about it. I’m ready to go,” he said.
The most important and fragile pieces will be moved in crates. The rest will travel in sturdy cardboard containers.
Evans will hire a crane to remove pieces from an upper-floor window in the Pittsburgh home of Peter and Diana Jannetta, who donated numerous pieces to the museum.
Bonsai Fine Arts of Glen Burnie, Md., will help move the collection back to the original site, just as it helped transport it to @rt 30.
Curator Barbara Jones has configured the layout of the galleries and determined which art will be displayed when the museum reopens.
The staff, furniture and office supplies will start moving in late August. Patrick Bochy, O’Toole’s assistant, is coordinating that part of the move.
“Right now, I’m just figuring out what’s going back to the museum and what’s not,” he said.
Rather than making the return trip, some of the furniture will be given to the staff and nonprofits, he said.
“There’s going to be a lot of new equipment that matches the new building. We wanted to keep with the architectural theme,” he said.
Bochy said he is coordinating with the staff members responsible for moving the art collection to make sure their plans don’t conflict.
The Route 30 building that housed the temporary museum is available for sale or lease by Guy Davis of Greensburg, who owns the site with his siblings. Stickley Audi and Co. furniture store was in the building until 2012.
The museum’s staff members have their work cut out for them before the reopening.
“I will never, ever complain about moving between apartments again after moving a museum,” Bochy said.
Jacob Tierney is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-836-6646 or [email protected].