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Westmoreland Museum of American Art home again

Mary Pickels
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Evan Sanders | Trib Total Media
Evan Valdes, 4, of Greensburg admires her completed puppet at the Westmoreland Museum of American Art during a community day Sunday, Oct. 25, 2015.
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Evan Sanders | Trib Total Media
Visitors view art in the newly built cantilevered wing at the Westmoreland Museum of American Art during a community day held Sunday, Oct. 25, 2015.
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Evan Sanders | Trib Total Media
Docent Dave Knoepfle speaks with attendees at the Westmoreland Museum of American Art during a community day Sunday, Oct. 25, 2015.
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Evan Sanders | Trib Total Media
A visitor stands in the newly built cantilevered wing at the Westmoreland Museum of American Art during a community day held Sunday, Oct. 25, 2015.
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Evan Sanders | Trib Total Media
Kathie Nelson of Forest Hills, Jay Carleton of Churchill and Dave Knoepfle of Greensburg (from left), a docent at the Westmoreland Museum of American Art, speak about the John Kane work that hangs on the wall of the museum during a community day held Sunday, Oct. 25, 2015.
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Evan Sanders | Trib Total Media
Seth Shoup, 2, of Greensburg, taps the cow bell on the drum of a member of Colonel Eagleburger's Highstepping Goodtime Band, at the Westmoreland Museum of American Art during a community day Sunday, Oct. 25, 2015.
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Evan Sanders | Trib Total Media
Simon Buzzard (front), 4, and his mother Jodi Buzzard, both of Ohio Township, look over an interactive puzzle illustrating the regional landscape at the Westmoreland Museum of American Art during a community day Sunday, Oct. 25, 2015.

Sunday afternoon, the galleries of the Westmoreland Museum of American Art filled with visitors.

Couples, groups of friends and families wandered up and down the stairs and in and out of the outdoor activity and refreshment tent at the free community event held to celebrate the reopening of the Greensburg facility.

The open house followed Saturday evening’s sold-out “The Sky’s the Limit Grand Reopening Party,” where guests got a first look at the results of a $38 million renovation and expansion.

The unveiling followed years of planning, including two of construction, when the museum staff and some of its artwork temporarily relocated to the former Stickley furniture store on Route 30 in Unity.

Visitors moved through the brightly lit, well-spaced galleries, lingering before paintings and sculptures, many pausing in the sun-drenched cantilever overlooking downtown Greensburg.

The dramatic new wing, exhibiting a selection of works from the bequest of late Tribune-Review owner Richard M. Scaife, provides additional space for traveling exhibitions. The museum inherited half of Scaife’s 500-plus-piece art collection, sharing it with their colleagues at the Brandywine River Museum of Art, near Philadelphia.

Saundra Frankowski of Baldwin was particularly taken with the new addition’s work.

“It’s amazing,” she said of the museum’s new appearance.

“I loved the cantilever. To see the Scaife bequest is heartwarming. … To think at one time they hung in his home. Now everyone can see them. I will definitely come back to see that. You just drink in the beauty,” she said.

Frankowski also enjoyed the textiles.

“I spent so much time in front of ‘Crazy Quilt,’ ” she said.

The cotton, velvet and silk quilt, whose maker and date of creation are unknown, drew numerous visitors in the Kendra Gallery, who commented on the insets of butterflies, parasols, fans and flowers.

Libby Zal and three friends traveled from Greenfield to the museum’s grand opening.

A fan of artists ranging from Amedeo Modigliani to Peter Max, she was impressed with the structure of the exhibits and the grand opening’s organization.

“It was very innovative that they had activities for children,” she said.

“I like the eclectic display. You have (African-American photographer and Pittsburgh native) Teenie Harris, you have steelworkers (Born of Fire: The Valley of Work exhibit), there are seascapes. It was so encompassing, such a variety of subjects. All this is a feast for my eyes,” she said of her first visit to the museum.

Todd and Ruth Barton of Hempfield brought children Peter, 10, Jack, 6, and Lucy, 3, who enjoyed the Center for Creative Connections interactive section.

“I liked the bridges,” Peter Barton said.

The table depicts Pittsburgh’s three rivers and allows kids, big and little, to try out their design and engineering skills.

All three children enjoyed the Stop Motion Animation table, where visitors use iPads and a selection of backgrounds and characters to “create” their own visions.

The hands-on exhibits help children enjoy museums more and allow adults time to see the art, Peter Barton said.

“It’s nice not to always go into Pittsburgh. Coming to things like this helps our community. … It’s definitely an opportunity for (children) to see art in a different way,” he said.

Seton Hill University students Molly Zindash and Holly Reid had visited the museum prior to the renovation.

Zindash, a graphic design major, is a Greensburg Community Development Corporation intern.

Visiting as part of an assignment and to share in the excitement of the grand opening, she was delighted to discover Salon style exhibits.

“I feel like I would come back to get inspired,” she said.

Reid, a psychology major and dance minor, especially enjoyed the bronze sculptures of dancers.

“I love the set-up. It’s a good use of space,” she said.

Throughout the day entertainment was scheduled including marching band Colonel Eagleburger’s Highstepping Goodtime Band, theatrical troupe Stage Right, Pittsburgh artists and puppeteers Tom Sarver and Mike Curraro and DJ KellyMom of Kid City Rockers.

The 30,000-square-foot existing building, which first opened in 1959, was expanded by a 13,287-square-foot addition, increasing the overall size by 44 percent and adding new galleries, community and educational programming spaces.

Mary Pickels is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-5401 or [email protected].

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