5 Illuminating And Inspiring Museums In Pittsburgh

With its storied history as a hub of industry, science, and culture, Pittsburgh stands as a unique American city with an enduring legacy of achievement. This heritage is evident in many high-profile institutions across the town, from eclectic art museums to organizations preserving and interpreting cultural traditions and memories. In no particular order, here are some enriching museums to check out in Steel City.

Arriving at #1 is The Westmoreland Museum of American Art, located in Greensburg. It was established in 1959 through a generous bequest from Mary Marchand Woods, a long-time resident who wanted her community to have an important cultural institution. Since then, the Museum has undergone significant expansion and renovation, making room for new galleries and community and educational programming spaces.

The Westmoreland's collection includes thousands of works by major American artists from four centuries, including paintings, sculptures, and decorative objects, plus a newer collection of post-1950s works. There is also a focus on the region's rich agrarian and industrial past, with many pieces depicting the Pennsylvania landscape and the steel and coal industry. The Museum offers a range of programs for students, families, and adults, such as outreach presentations and studio art classes.

For #2 we get the Holocaust Center of Pittsburgh. Founded in 1980, the Center was created as a living memorial to honor survivors who came to Pittsburgh to rebuild their lives, as well as local soldiers who helped liberate the camps. It works to connect the horrors of the Holocaust and antisemitism with the injustices of today, and uses education to empower individuals to build a more civil and humane society.

The Center's offerings include public gallery exhibits, an extensive library and archive, cultural events, internationally renowned speakers, and free and affordable resources for teachers. Its collection of artifacts from the Holocaust and the WWII era features a concentration camp uniform coat, which is on permanent display. Learners and educators can avail themselves of "CHUTZ-POW!," a comic book series that tells the true-life stories of various heroic survivors.

Next at #3 is the August Wilson African American Cultural Center. Named for the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright, a Pittsburgh native, it's a multi-purpose venue featuring art galleries, performance spaces, meeting areas, and classrooms. The mission of the AWAACC is to own and operate a home for arts, storytelling, learning, and exchange, focused on the African-American experience and the rich culture of the diaspora.

Guided by the enduring truths and essential values evident in the work of August Wilson, the Center offers a wide range of programs including lectures, workshops, and musical and theatrical performances. Its gallery spaces, meanwhile, have hosted such acclaimed visual artists as Hebru Brantley, Latoya Ruby Frazier, and Vanessa German. To ensure accessibility for people of all backgrounds, the AWAACC makes its galleries free and open to the public.

For #4 we come to Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh. With a legacy dating back to 1895, today this institution encompasses a family of four diverse museums, focused on art, natural history, science, and the life and work of Andy Warhol. As the largest and most far-reaching cultural organization in the Pittsburgh region, each year these locations serve 1.5 million people, including more than 249,000 schoolchildren.

One of the country’s largest institutions of its kind, Carnegie Museum of Natural History houses millions of objects and specimens reflecting the biodiversity and history of life. The Carnegie Science Center focuses on nurturing the next generation of STEM innovators and leaders, while C.M.O.A. exhibits a collection of contemporary visual art in a plethora of media. Finally, The Andy Warhol Museum contains some 500,000 artworks and objects from the life of the 20th-century icon.

Lastly, showing up at #5 is Contemporary Craft, situated in the Upper Lawrenceville neighborhood. Since 1971, it has presented contemporary art by international, national, and regional artists, who use craft materials such as clay, fiber, metal, and wood. Dedicated to multicultural diversity, the institution offers innovative exhibitions, hands-on workshops, community outreach programs, and a store featuring handcrafted objects.

Visitors are invited to experience the changing exhibitions at the Satellite Gallery, located in the Steel Plaza T-Station Lobby at BNY Mellon Center. Interpretive programs, lectures, performances, and weekend activities are offered in conjunction with each exhibition. For families, the Drop-In Studio provides a free, hands-on workspace for all ages during all public hours. The Studio encourages visitors to participate in art activities that have been developed by professional creators.