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Galleries, displays and museums for every art lover
Listen. We all know that Pittsburgh is home to a variety of world-class art museums and installations. A quick Google search will show you the highlights you can't miss, and the Carnegie Museum of Art, The Andy Warhol Museum, Mattress Factory and Randyland never disappoint.
But this blog is for your die-hard art fans, your second and third-time visitors to Pittsburgh and your locals who are looking to explore EVERYTHING that the Pittsburgh arts scene has to offer. If you're still reading, follow along with our checklist of the visual arts you need to see in addition to the top touristy spots.
Yes, Pittsburgh Glass Center is the perfect date night activity to make crafted glass and watch glass demonstrations. But did you know the center also has a great exhibit space? In 2022, the center featured artists from 15 different countries to present their outstanding juried art in contemporary kiln-glass design, architecture and art.
The sprawling Contemporary Craft complex is home to a ton of studio space to welcome artists-in-residence and drop ins as well as workshops open to the public. It also offers three rotating exhibits: their largest in their Main Lawrenceville Gallery, a satellite gallery on 500 Grant Street, and a series of exhibition cases at their main location. Browse current, upcoming and past exhibits on their website.
A wonderful spot for getting in touch with nature and for weddings and corporate events, Pittsburgh Botanic Garden is also a top spot to take in the visual arts. Outdoors, installations such as 2021's Carbon Cycle: An Earth Art Exhibit seamless mesh art and nature, while indoors at their welcome center guests can enjoy Patterns of Meaning, a collection of new art cast from foundry patterns in class and ceramics.
Celebrating 50 years of excellence in the arts, Concept Art Gallery has worked with and exhibited many of the region's top artists as well as national and international names in the art world. Look for rotating exhibitions throughout the year here, as well as a variety of auctions to help you take home your favorite piece.
In the University of Pittsburgh's Cathedral of Learning, the rooms themselves are works of art. 31 Nationality Rooms envelop the first and third floors, each modeled after a different heritage, to give students and visitors the opportunity to celebrate the diverse communities that make up Pittsburgh's population.
Please note: These are active classrooms, so we recommend scheduling a tour for the full effect. And, be sure to check their calendar in December as a variety of celebrations and decorations transform these rooms for the holidays.
The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust manages permanent and pop-up galleries and exhibitions throughout Downtown Pittsburgh, each with a slightly different focus. Wood Street Galleries focuses on installations centered around digital media, video, robotics and film. SPACE is for collaboration of emerging artists in a supportive setting. 707 Gallery features Pittsburgh-based artists.
Be on the lookout for gallery crawls and pop-ups (820 Liberty Gallery is a frequent location) throughout the year , and mark your calendar in advance for the Three Rivers Arts Festival which takes over the Cultural District each summer.
Part art installation, part museum, part repair shop, all Americana. Bicycle Heaven is the world's largest bicycle museum, but don't expect exhibits behind glass. The bicycles are presented as modern art with bikes covering every surface floor to ceiling, including a bike with a tree growing around it, wheels turned into modern art and hand-written signs accompanying many of the displays. It's an experience you can have Only in Pittsburgh, and something you need to see to truly enjoy.
Right next door to Bicycle Heaven, Johnny Angel's Ginchy Stuff and Music Museum continues the Americana vibes with a one-of-a-kind mix of memorabilia and vinyl. See impressive arrays of guitars, albums, art, photos and more from Johnny's 50+ year career, but make sure you leave time to browse. The music store is loaded with rare vinyl, CDs, instruments and toys spanning rock n' roll history.
Dedicated exclusively to the African American experience, the August Wilson African American Cultural Center shares that vision through permanent and rotating exhibits across their gorgeous space Downtown. Start at August Wilson: The Writer's Landscape, the first-ever permanent exhibition dedicated to Pittsburgh's August Wilson, the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright. Then, head to The Claude Worthington Benedum Gallery for their dynamic offering of installations.
While you're shopping the Lawrenceville neighborhood, be sure to walk in the door and up the stairs marked by the Redfishbowl logo to enter one of my favorite galleries in Pittsburgh. This artist collective aims to unite creative voices regardless of gender, race and orientation, leading to an incredible array of new art every time you enter. I never leave not needing a frame for my newly-purchased artwork.
Go on a journey through the history of photographs and the cameras used to capture them at the Photo Antiquities Museum of Photographic History. 500,000 photographic images are archived here, showcased beside 2,000+ cameras, but my favorite part is their unmatched collection of vintage Pittsburgh photographs. A rotating exhibit space also ensures your visit has something new to see every time!
If you're in Millvale, head up, up and up some more to reach St. Nicholas Croatian Catholic Church. Inside, 25 murals by Maxo Vanka cover 4,500 square feet of the church, each with a unique story to tell. While the depictions are often religious, everyone can view Vanka's work and come away with a unique perspective on what these 80-year-old works mean to them.
The Clemente Museum is so much more than just sports memorabilia for "The Great One." Sports fans will love the incredible collection of bats, jerseys, balls and baseball cards, but that's just the beginning. Be sure to explore the incredible photography on display in the studio space of the museum, learn the history of the amazing fire hydrant-supported table in the first floor gallery, and do the whole museum while enjoying the art of winemaking - Engine House 25 Wines can be paired with each tour for an unparalleled night at the museum.