museums in pittsburgh museums in pittsburgh

8 Famous Museums in Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh is a city to explore in Pennsylvania state of the US. It is ranked second in populous cities after Philadelphia in Pennsylvania. The city was founded in 1758 by George Washington. There are many famous museums in Pittsburgh. Let us find out about the 8 famous museums among them. 

1. 8 Famous Museums in Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh is a famous city in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. It is most famous for its Museums.  These museums are also a part of its heritage. It is ranked 68th in the most populous cities of the U.S. 

This city was founded on the 27th of November, 1758. George Washington founded this city. Furthermore, the city is famous as Steel City as well as Bridges City. The founders are known for their major role in the history of the Steel Industry.

Following are the eight popular museums among visitors to explore. So, let’s get through the details of the museums to understand better. 

1.1. Carnegie Museum of Natural History

This museum is situated in the neighborhood of Pittsburgh, in Oakland. It is a natural history museum founded by Industrialist Andrew Carnegie in 1869 and also named after him. Carnegie Museum has the finest paleontological assembly in the world with housing of about 22 million specimens.

1.1.1. History of Carnegie Museum  

The Carnegie Museum has occupied an area of 115,000 square feet. It is organized into different sections. This includes 20 galleries, a library, an office, and a research area. Out of the available specimens 10,000 can be seen at any point in time. Meanwhile, 1 million are available in an online database. Moreover, the museum has also hosted 63,000 school visits.

museums in pittsburgh
Image by

Carnegie Museum gained wide recognition and prominence. The scientists presented the fossils of Diplodocus Carnegii. Among the millions of specimens, it also includes the fossil of Apatosaurus. These are very few in the world.

The museum authorities also established field stations for research work including Powdermill Nature Reserve, Hillman Hall of Minerals and Germs, etc.

1.1.2. Museum Publications

 Carnegie Museum also publishes journals and books like the Bulletin of Carnegie Museum, Annals of Carnegie Museum, and others. This offers content about earth science, organismal biology, and anthropology. 

1.2. The Andy Warhol Museum

The Andy Warhol Museum is among the renowned museums in Pittsburgh. This is the largest museum in North America situated at Sandusky Street in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Andy Warhol Museum is dedicated to a single artist. Further, it holds a permanent vast collection of art. 

1.2.1.  History

The museum was established on the 13th of May 1994. It is an Art Museum with a total allotted area of 88,000 square feet. This has seven floors that contain 17 galleries. It features paintings, sculptures, unique prints, videotapes, and Warhol films. Despite this, it has also sponsored out-location exhibitions. Moreover, it has attracted over 153 million visitors worldwide until now.

A Visit to The Andy Warhol Museum

The planning work for the museum was initiated in October 1989. It was commenced after Warhol’s death. Also, the AWFVA and the Dia Art Foundation donated about 80 million dollars worth of works to the newly announced museum. Thomas N. Armstrong III was appointed as the first director of the museum in 1993.

In the opening weekend of the museum it attracted over 25,000 visitors. After nine months, Armstrong resigned from the directorial post. Moreover, various events took place in the later years. In 1977, it was given the copyright of Warhol films and videos by the AWFVA.

1.2.2. Content Release 

The Museum also released content depicting the Museum and Warhol. In 2010, the film She’s Out of My League shot a key scene during an event at the museum. Besides, a TV series named The Andy Warhol Diaries was released in 2022. It featured the staff of the museum narrating about Warhol’s life.

1.3. Carnegie Science Center

Carnegie Science Center is a famous and most visited museum in Pittsburgh. It is one of the four Carnegie Museums. It is located in the neighborhood of Chateau.

This attractive museum consists of four floors. It features over 400 exhibits. Besides, it attracts about 700,000 visitors every year. It has been a great source of gathering for families and children for many years. The staff is carrying the legacy ahead with new exhibits.

1.3.1. About History

Carnegie Science Center is one of the constituent of four Carnegie Museums in Pittsburgh. It was established on the 5th of October 1991 as a science and technology museum. The museum is situated across the street from Acrisure Stadium, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 

Carnegie Science Center is an act of merger that begins with the Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science. It was established in 1939. This was the fifth major Planetarium in the U.S. at that time. After serving and being recognized for several decades it began to show negative signs.

museums in pittsburgh
Image by

In an expansion project, it was relocated to the Chateau neighborhood. But, it required more staffing than it was able to provide. Meanwhile, Carnegie Institute showed interest in a merger with Buhl Institute.

In 1987, both authorities agreed upon the merger. They renamed it as the Carnegie Science Center. Moving on, the construction of the building began in 1989. Its budget was about 40 million dollars. 

1.3.2. The Roboworld Unit  

The second floor was the center of attraction till the 19th of June, 2022 due to the Roboworld area. It was the largest robotics exhibition. The exhibition was comprised of over 30 interactive robotic things. The Roboworld was the home for R2D2, C-3PO, Hal9000, and Gort robots. 

1.3.3. The Highmark Sports Works

Highmark Sports Work, previously known as UPMC Sports Work. It is a major and permanent exhibit at the Carnegie Science Center. This offers the largest science and sports exhibitions. Visitors can participate in more than 30 interactive experiences.

Visiting SportsWorks!

Meanwhile, the main purpose of Sports Work is to induce learning and curiosity through experiences of sports at every age level. It works with the principles and laws of science that apply in sports. 

This complex offers three different themed areas. These area depict LifeWorks, Physics of Sports, and Sports Challenge. 

1.3.4. Cone Structure

There is an inverted white cone on the top of the building. The structure is called the Weather Cone. It was designed by Shashi Caan and Matthew Tanteri. This E-motion Cone illuminates in different colors during the night. These lights are controlled by a computerized lighting system.

1.4. Carnegie Museum of Art

The Carnegie Museum of Art is among the famous museums in Pittsburgh. It is situated in the neighborhood of Oakland in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. This Arts museum was originally referred to as the Department of Fine Arts. In 1985, the first art gallery was opened for visitors. Further, it expanded over time. 

1.4.1. About History

In 1886, Andrew Carnegie thought about preserving the process and development of pictorial art in the USA. He proposed an idea of a museum. In 1985, a house was placed in an art gallery in the main branch of Carnegie’s Library. Carnegie initially framed a museum with collections of old masters. It was expanded with the Hall of Sculpture and Hall of Architecture

The History of the Carnegie International

The Sarah Mellon Scaife Gallery was also built under the directorship of Leon A. ArkusThe building was designed by Edward Larrabee Barnes. It was first opened in 1974 for spectators.

After the expansion of the museum, a  theater, offices, cafe, and children’s studio were added. It has also undergone renovation many times since it was built. 

1.4.2. Departments and Art Collections

Carnegie Museum of Arts consists of various curatorial departments. It includes the Decorative Arts, Fine Arts, Photography, and Architecture. This holds exhibitions every year. Further, it makes up around 35,0000 Pieces of permanent collection. 

Heinz Architectural Center has an area of 4000 square feet. It offers a collection of engineering, landscape designs, works of architecture, furniture, and interior designing.

Hillman Initiative of Photography hosts various projects, documentary videos, art projects, writing, and live public events. Every year the initiative’s planning is done by a group consisting of 5 agents. 

1.4.3. Artifacts 

This museum consists of various artifacts. These artifacts are from different dynasties, which are available to see for visitors. The collection includes many things. Firstly, a bronze ritualistic vessel of the Shang Dynasty. Secondly, an Ancient Greco-Roman vase. Lastly, a painting of the Great Fire of Pittsburgh and so on.

1.5. Fort Pitt Museum

Fort Pitt Museum is an indoor and outdoor museum. It is surrounded by Pennsylvania State Park and Point State Park. Further, it is situated in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, US. This museum is managed and controlled by the Senator John Heinz History Center in Pittsburgh. 

1.5.1. About History

Fort Pitt was built at the time of the French and Indian War in 1758. It is located next to the site of Fort Duquesne. Duquesne Fort was a strategic point during the war due to its river location. Nevertheless, with an attempt to take Duquesne fort, the French garrison attacked viciously on the British Regiment.

museums in pittsburgh
Image by

It happened in 1758 and destroyed the fort. Failure of the Braddock expedition due to the Treaty of Easton led American Indians to abandon their alliance with the French. Indians wanted their post in that area. But, later the British built a fort and named it Fort Pitt.

1.5.2. About the Museum

In October 2006, Michael announced a renovation plan. He was the Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. It was a 25-million-dollar plan for renovating the parts of Fort Pitt Museum and Point State Park. The work included expanding recreational activities. These activities are updating amenities, preserving historical things, and others.

With all due efforts by the authority, the majority of work was completed till the 250th anniversary of Pittsburgh in 2008. Many sections of the park have not been in use since 1974. At that time, it was established due to which Graffiti has become a problem.

In 2009, the museum was closed due to a lack of funding and budget crises. However, it was reopened in the year 2010. It happened when the state budget was passed. This was done under the leadership of Senator John Heinz Regional History Center.

1.6. Senator John Heinz History Center – Museums in Pittsburgh

Senator John Heinz History Center is the largest history museum in Pittsburgh city of Pennsylvania. The museum was in the Strip district of the city of Pittsburgh. However, the museum was named after U.S. Senator H. John Heinz III. He died in 1991. Moving on, it has a large area of about 275,000 square feet for educational institutions. Also, these institutions depict the American history.  

1.6.1. About History

This museum was established in 1879 as a club. It was named Old Residents of Pittsburgh. Furthermore, the name was changed in 1884. The leaders of Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania changed the name of it. Since then, it has been operating efficiently. Besides, it is recognized as the oldest cultural organization in Pittsburgh.

Senator John Heinz History Center

The initial planning and meeting were held in homes and churches. But in 1893, it was granted space in the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh. After 1996, the expansion and renovation program led it to the Strip district of Pittsburgh. Moreover, the history museum comprises six floors. These floors depicts the permanent and changing exhibitions of the history of Western Pennsylvania. 

1.6.2. Sports Museum

The Western Pennsylvania Sports Museum is situated in the Smithsonian wing of the History Center. It has over 20,000 feet of space. Usually, the space over the two floors is used for exhibits. Also, it is like a museum in a museum that captures the evolution of sports leaders for over a century. Additionally, it features exhibits for all levels of sports players.

The museum shows the sports tales of Pittsburgh by depicting hundreds of artifacts, exhibits, and audio-visual programs. Moving on, selected-known artifacts include Mario Lemieux’s hockey skates, Olympic medals, and many others. 

1.7. Mattress Factory – Museums in Pittsburgh

Mattress Factory is an art museum located in Pittsburgh city of Pennsylvania. This museum was a header of site-specific installation art. It features various installations of artists.

The Mattress Factory Immersive Art Experience - Pittsburgh PA

The museum’s roof is full of light art. However, it is also a part of the evening skyline of Pittsburgh’s Northside. Further, Barbara Luderowski started his journey with a mattress warehouse. It was purchased in 1975. Also, it achieved non-profit status in 1977. 

1.7.1. About History

Barbara Luderowski purchased a Stearns and Foster mattress warehouse in 1975. He was the founder of Mattress Factory. Initially, she utilized this warehouse as a place to work. She organized a community of intellectuals and artists there. In 1977, the factory got legal recognition due to efforts of the community.

museums in pittsburgh
Image by

Later, it became a non-profit cultural and educational organization. The first installation art exhibition was held just after five years in 1982. Since then, it has been an integral part of the arts community in Pittsburgh.

1.8. The Frick Pittsburgh

The Frick Pittsburgh is no doubt to be referred to as a group of museums and historical buildings situated in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It was formed around Clayton. Also, it was the residence of Frick’s family. This was in the nineteenth century.

However, the museum complex is situated on 5.5 acres of land in the Point Breeze neighborhood. It includes Clayton, Frick mansion, and others.

The site welcomes more than 1,00,000 visitors every year. Admission to the site is free. Helen Clay Frick died in 1984. She was the driving force of the Frick estate. Thereafter, it was opened for a public visit after her death.

1.8.1. About History

This museum has eleven Italian-styled rooms. These were purchased by Frick in 1881. He bought it right after their marriage. The house was constructed in the 1860s. But, the real architect is still unknown. It was renamed as Clayton after the modifications. Furthermore, these modifications were suggested by architect Andrew Peebles.

museums in pittsburgh
Image by

It served as the primary place of residence of Fricks. This was from 1883 to 1905. Then, they moved to New York. However, their daughter Helen Clay Frick returned to Clayton. She stayed permanently till her death in 1984. The carriage house was enlarged in 1997 to make a Car and Carriage Museum.

1.8.2. Museum’s Collections 

The Art Museum’s Collection consists of various nineteenth-century paintings. It includes European paintings, Medieval Paintings, and Renaissance Paintings. Moreover, It has automobiles including an 1881 Brougham and a 1914 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost amongst others.

2. Conclusion

Pittsburgh is a city in Pennsylvania in the United States. Popularly, the city is better known as a steel city. As it contributes a major role in the steel industries of the United States. You will find many impressive zoos and beautiful gardens to wander around.

You will realize that the city is packed with historical museums. Museums are a great way to explore. You can observe the history from closer. Meanwhile, to understand history, you need to observe rough visuals and presentations. This will help you remember things.

There are many types of museums. These museums include art museums, history museums, and sports museums. Besides, you can choose where you want to visit first. This article mentions the 8 famous museums in Pittsburgh.

For more details, click here.

Last Updated on September 1, 2023 by Janhavi Ramesh Kowligi