While the kids play, see these more adult Pittsburgh museums

April 13, 2015
Check out the T. Rex and the triceratops at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh.

I am sitting quietly on a stool against a black backdrop trying to channel my inner Edie Sedgwick as the camera rolls for 4 minutes and 41 seconds. I’m ready for my screen test, Andy Warhol.

But it’s hard to know what to do. Do I sit still or do I fidget? I should do something, right? But what? So I play with my hair and I blink and smile and then go back to a straight face. This could be very, very boring.

Later that day, a link to my screen test is emailed to me. I will not be the next Edie Sedgwick. Oh, well.

At the Andy Warhol Museum, you both experience some of his art as well as learn about the pop culture icon, who was born Andrew Warhola in 1928 in Pittsburgh.

It’s one of a few Pittsburgh museums that are better appreciated on an adult level or by older children.

Start in the theater to watch a short film about Warhol that will help you better understand the artist. You’ll get to hear from one of his brothers as well as famous and not-so-famous people that knew him.

Then head up to the top of the seven-floor building and work your way down to follow his life in chronological order. You can see his work as a child, as a high schooler and in college at what has become Carnegie Mellon University. You then learn about his work doing advertisements for shoes in New York in the late 1950s and how he created the blotted line look of his early years.

Soon you’re in the 1960s and you see his pop art style come to life in images of Campbell’s Soup cans, Elvis and Jackie Kennedy.

Then you see how his interest in making film takes off and how the Factory came to be. Enter a room and experience "Exploding Plastic Inevitable," a film that is an auditory and visual explosion that might make your heart and head pound.

On another floor, experience "Silver Cloud," a room filled with giant, inflated silver balloons that sink and rise around you. You can swat them or move them around in this playful experience.

One of the fascinating parts of the museum was seeing his boxes and boxes of time capsules. Warhol was a collector of his life and boxed up everything, even the most random things.

Once you finish your tour, the museum has a great gift shop and a cafe that’s made to look like the Factory.

While the Warhol Museum offers a history of one of Pittsburgh’s famous sons, for a history of many more of its sons and some daughters, head to the Heinz History Center and the adjoining Western Pennsylvania Sports Museum.

At the Heinz History Center, you learn about the forming of Pittsburgh, beginning with its days as a fort that was part of the French and Indian War. Then you see it as a city of industry as railroad and steel came to be. You can visit different house replicas that show how living in Pittsburgh changed from cabin life to the charming homes of the 1950s.

A big part of the museum is pitching the innovations that come from this city. Learn about industry forefathers George Westinghouse and Andrew Carnegie. Discover how Jonas Salk, who worked out of the University of Pittsburgh, found the polio vaccine. It’s a champion of Pittsburgh-created products like the Jeep and the poison control stickers.

In the Heinz exhibit, you can learn how horseradish and ketchup turned into more than 5,700 products in 200 countries. You can even watch some classic commercials.

Other exhibits are tributes to the local glass industry and the makers of wood planes.

The Special Collections Gallery features artifacts from Pittsburgh’s immigrants. See what the Irish, Slovaks, Russians, Italians and Jews brought with them into Pittsburgh. Another exhibit tells the story of Pittsburgh’s role in slavery and then the abolition movement.

There’s a lot to see in this museum, but don’t miss the staircases. Between each floor are the SmartSteps, which give you Pittsburgh history by the numbers as you climb each step from the first floor to the sixth floor.

Attached to the center is the Western Pennsylvania Sports Museum. Here you can see clips of Pittsburgh Steeler Terry Bradshaw winning the Super Bowl. You can learn about the Steelers owner Art Rooney and his family and see how helmets evolved.

This museum isn’t just about Pittsburgh’s three professional sports: football, baseball and hockey. It’s full of exhibits of lesser-known sports like marbles and bocce ball. It looks at everything from neighborhood clubs, high school teams and African-American leagues.

It’s an interesting museum, even for this non-sports enthusiast.

—Andy Warhol Museum

Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays-Thursdays, Saturdays-Sundays; 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Fridays; closed Mondays

Tickets: $20 adults, $10 students and children 3-18

Address: 117 Sandusky St.

Information: 412-237-8300; warhol.org

—Heinz History Center and Western Pennsylvania Sports Museum

Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily

Tickets: $15 adults, $13 seniors, $6 students and children 6-17

Address: 1212 Smallman St.

Information: 412-454-6000, heinzhistorycenter.org

 

 





 


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