Role of museum marketing director ranges from capital campaign to press releases

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Although Claire Ertl began her new job in May, she will not have a permanent office until late spring.

That is because the Westmoreland Museum of American Art, where she works as director of marketing and public relations, is undergoing a $20 million renovation project which will result in an additional 13,000 square feet.

But it’‍s still business as usual, the Shaler woman said.

Two traveling exhibitions from the permanent collection — Picturing America with 54 paintings and three sculptures, and the 38-work From Blasted Trees to Blast Furnaces, illustrating the American transformation from an agrarian to an industrial society — are on tour.

More importantly, a temporary site with administrative offices operates in the former Stickley Audi furniture store, 4764 Route 30 in Greensburg, until the museum reopens in summer 2015.

The 30,000-square-foot building is called Westmoreland Museum of American Art @rt 30. Admission is free. 

Besides pop-up exhibitions showcasing Western Pennsylvania artists, the museum is hosting, for the first time, the 103rd Associated Artists of Pittsburgh annual exhibition through Aug. 31.

“It’‍s a real honor for us to be hosting the exhibition; I hope it will bring visitors from Pittsburgh who may never have been at the Westmoreland Museum of American Art,” Ms. Ertl said.

She is no stranger to galleries bursting with art: She grew up in a home filled with oil pastel drawings and acrylic paintings done by her artist/nurse mother, Carol Stoops.

Young Claire took art classes and was encouraged in her efforts at drawing by her mother. After entering Denison University intent on majoring in psychology, she switched to art.

She set her sights on art administration as a career following a monthlong internship at the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh.

Ms. Ertl’‍s current job follows nine years of marketing roles with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, the final of which was senior director of marketing and sales.

“I was educated in visual arts,” she said. “It’‍s nice to have a position doing arts marketing for the purpose of promoting an art museum and visual arts.”

On a typical day, Ms. Ertl’‍s attention ranges from the museum’‍s $38 million capital and endowment campaign — with $21 million raised so far — to preparing advertisements and press releases.

She is one of eight staff members working with an advertising agency on a new slogan and logo design, while overseeing a forthcoming redesign of the website.

She is also focused on planning of the marketing campaign surrounding the reopening, including a gala event for which a date has not yet been set.

When completed, the museum will feature a new, two-story wing with a cantilevered, or protruding, design similar to architect Frank Lloyd Wright’‍s renowned Fallingwater. The wing will expand the site’‍s scope of art as newly acquired post-1950s artworks — a major gift from a trustee couple — will be displayed there, complementing the museum’‍s mid-18th-century to mid-20th-century collection.

The wing’‍s ground floor will increase the museum’‍s capability for rentals. The redesigned landscape will sport indigenous trees and plants, along with linked walkways.

Ms. Ertl said while her goal is to expand awareness, grow attendance and increase membership and donors, the institution’‍s reputation precedes her efforts.

“Visual art enthusiasts are definitely aware of our museum,” she said.


Margaret Smykla, freelance writer:



AGE: 36

HOMETOWN: Beavercreek, Ohio — a suburb of Dayton

OCCUPATION: Director of marketing and public relations at the Westmoreland Museum of American Art

EDUCATION: Bachelor’‍s degree from Denison University, Granville, Ohio

FAMILY: Husband, A.J.

WHAT’‍S IMPORTANT? Family and friends; health; career success

FIRST JOB: Lifeguard

AND WHEN YOU WERE A KID, YOU WANTED TO BE ... : School counselor

HOBBIES: Swimming, walking dog Bailey, running, triathlons

READING MATERIAL ON YOUR NIGHTSTAND: “Picturing America: Signature Works from the Westmoreland Museum of American Art”

WHAT’‍S PLAYING ON TV? “Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives;” “House Hunters” — “but sports if my husband is in control of the remote.”

WHAT’‍S ON YOUR PLAYLIST? “Hozier’‍s ‘‍Take Me to Church’‍ is my new favorite song.”



WHO WOULD PLAY YOU IN A MOVIE ABOUT YOUR LIFE? “Jennifer Garner. She is a fellow Denison alumna.”

PEOPLE WOULD BE SURPRISED TO KNOW: “I once ran in the pierogi race at a Pirates game as Oliver Onion, who happens to be my favorite pierogi.”

GUILTY PLEASURE: “Sweets, especially dark chocolate and orange scones from Oakmont Bakery and anything with coconut.”

IF YOU HAD IT TO DO OVER YOU WOULD: “Open a bakery because I like to eat baked goods. Specifically, open an organic bakery because I like healthy foods.”

FAVORITE SPOT IN THE WORLD: “In the car with my husband and our dog on a road trip to a vacation destination.”

MOST EMBARRASSING MOMENT: “Almost tripping when my husband and I were making our grand entrance at our wedding reception.”

BEST USE OF A $100 GIFT CARD: “Dinner at a locally owned restaurant.”

PROUDEST MOMENT, SO FAR: “Crossing the finish line when completing my first and only full marathon.”

GOAL: “Compete in an Olympic distance triathlon.”

WHAT’‍S ON YOUR BUCKET LIST? “Traveling to parts of this country and Europe where I have not yet visited.” 

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