Bidding Farewell to Retiring Director/CEO Judith O’Toole
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
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The Westmoreland Museum of American Art Bids Farewell to Retiring Director/CEO Judith O’Toole
O’Toole has led the Museum through 25 years of expansion and outreach.
GREENSBURG, Pennsylvania (Thursday, September 7, 2017) – Judith Hansen O’Toole has announced her retirement from the position of The Richard M. Scaife Director/CEO of The Westmoreland Museum of American Art to be effective June 1, 2018. The date also marks her 25th anniversary of accepting the role, becoming only the second director in the Museum’s six-decade history.
O’Toole is an expert and author in the field of 19th- and 20th-century American art. She is a member of the Association of Art Museum Directors, where she serves on the Professional Issues Committee, and has been a peer reviewer for the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, the Institute of Museum and Library Services and, currently, the American Alliance of Museums. She has received numerous honors and recognitions, most recently the 2017 Stage Right “Heart of the Arts” award.
Originally from Minneapolis, O’Toole earned an M.A. in art history from Pennsylvania State University, where she met her sculptor husband, Kevin, and served her first directorship at the Sordoni Art Gallery in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. In 1993, motivated by her expertise in American art and enticed by the challenge of running an independent, nonprofit museum without an academic parent organization, she took the position of Director/CEO at The Westmoreland. Judy, Kevin and their two daughters, Sarah and Rachel, made the move to Greensburg in the late spring of that year.
During her tenure, O’Toole has guided The Westmoreland through growth and change, transforming it into a nationally-recognized museum, connecting with the public and funders through regional and American collections, developing community-oriented educational programming and expanding the Museum’s geographic reach. She has organized a number of significant exhibitions, including shows of American still-life painting and the artists of the Hudson River School. From 2012 to 2015, she led the Museum through a transformational renovation and expansion that resulted in a LEED Silver, modern building and a more accessible organization.
Increasing The Westmoreland’s focus on community engagement through efforts, including the 2001 development of a signature youth educational program, O’Toole has garnered the Museum recognition from the likes of the NAACP and Citizens for the Arts in Pennsylvania, as well as a 2005 segment in the public television series “The Visionaries.” In 2017, The Westmoreland became the first institution to receive the YWCA Racial Justice Award.
“I am humbled by the exceptional team of people I have worked with over the years and what we have accomplished together – including, most recently, a stunning, award winning East wing and renovated building. What is most gratifying for me is having created an open and welcoming museum with an outstanding collection, thanks to many wonderful donors, and an entrepreneurial, creative and collaborative work environment.” says O’Toole. “I believe the Museum is well positioned to embrace new leadership, equipped as it is with a strong board of trustees; an innovative and dedicated staff; a stunning, state-of-the-art facility; and a stable financial base.”
The Museum’s Board of Trustees plans to form a succession committee and engage a search firm in order to undertake a national search for its next Director/CEO.
“In my current role as Board President for the Museum and serving as a member of the Board of Trustees for many years prior, I have seen first-hand Judy’s exemplary leadership. She aptly guided The Westmoreland through our major renovation and expansion, carrying out the vision she had for the Museum. Her accomplishments are many; however she is most proud of the frequent compliments received from visitors about the welcoming nature of the Museum as well as the culture of inclusion and great camaraderie among The Westmoreland’s staff. She is leaving the organization in a very stable position and will be integrally involved in the coming months as we make succession plans,” stated The Westmoreland’s Board of Trustees President Diana Jannetta.
Bruce Wolf, Past President of the Museum’s Board, says of O’Toole, “The Westmoreland Museum of American Art and the region will forever be grateful to our second Director, Judith O’Toole. Judy’s hard work and guidance over 25 years enabled us to successfully complete two capital campaigns. She is responsible for the expansion of the permanent collection to include the generous gifts of art from Richard Scaife, Diana and Peter Jannetta and Michael Nieland. Judy’s vision was the driving force behind the total renovation and expansion of our facility to create The New Westmoreland. Her impeccable scholarship contributed to a wealth of spectacular exhibitions, including the iconic Born of Fire, which travelled internationally. By engaging the local community, the educational community and the regional foundation community, Judy made the Museum the most important cultural institution in Westmoreland County. It was an honor and privilege to serve as Board President under Judy’s amazing guidance. We will miss her.”
About The Westmoreland Museum of American Art The Westmoreland Museum of American Art, located at 221 N. Main Street in Greensburg, PA, completed a transformational renovation and expansion project in October 2015. A new LEED-certified addition of over 13,000 square feet features a dynamic cantilevered design along with a stunning view of the City of Greensburg and the Laurel Highlands beyond. The Westmoreland’s permanent collection is comprised of works by major American artists from the 18th century through the present, with a special emphasis on Southwestern Pennsylvania art and artists. The Museum also offers an impressive schedule of temporary exhibitions of American art – both nationally-travelling and those organized in house – as well as events and community-oriented educational programming for all ages. More information is available at thewestmoreland.org.