By: James Mckenzie Photos by: Paul Clemence
Pittsburgh is undoubtedly one of the most picturesque cities in the U.S. The city features an eye-catching mix of architectural styles, numerous sporting events throughout the year, eclectic gastronomic pleasures, and probably the largest collection of bridges anywhere (amazing structures!). The city might feel like a small town, yet its attractions offer rivals many larger metropolises.
But what to do if you happen to be there and the weather does not collaborate (like it happened with this writer). No sunny days, no problem! – the city’s world-class art museums can keep you entertained for days. Below are the top picks of museums in Pittsburgh that are perfect to explore in those cloudy, rainy days:
Andy Warhol Museum: The Andy Warhol Museum carries the largest collection of Warhol’s artwork. The museum has seven floors with each floor featuring an era in Warhol’s art career. As you enter the museum, you are welcomed by Warhol’s iconic red couch- the original red sofa starred in Warhol’s many films. Although the original red sofa from the 1960s was stolen when Warhol left it on the sidewalk while moving, the design of the couch at the entrance of the museum is of identical design.
Among the museum’s highlights is the very first of his Campbell Soup series and the large “Elvis 11 Times-1963” silkscreen painting. Also, don’t miss Warhol’s Silver Clouds piece offering viewers captivating inflated silver balloons floating off the floor.
Carnegie Museum of Art: The Carnegie is Pittsburgh’s most fascinating museum. And the largest. The museum’s collection includes paintings from notable artists like Pablo Picasso, Paul Cezanne, and Vincent Van Gogh. Van Gogh’s “Wheat Fields in a Clouded Sky” collected at the Carnegie was painted before his passing and its landscapes express his sadness and extreme loneliness but also the immense joy of emotions he experienced during his time with nature at Auvers.
Not to be missed is the museum’s Hall of Architecture. You will be able to admire plaster casts of some of the world’s most intriguing architectural pieces such as the famous doors from the Baptistery of St. John in Florence, Italy. You will spend a good amount of time here just admiring this grand room filled with replica of the Western world’s greatest relics. The Carnegie has so much to offer for art lovers and architecture fanatics. Now that I have got you excited- go visit the Carnegie Museum of Art!
Mattress Factory: You may wonder why the name “Mattress Factory”. Back in the days, the building was used as a showroom and warehouse for a mattress giant company, and it kept its original intended use name. To say the least, the Mattress Factory is quite an unusual place, with interesting contemporary art installations that will stimulate your imagination and make your mind go places!
Permanent exhibits at the Mattress Factory include Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Dots Mirrored Room; James Turrell’s sublime light installations; and Chiharu Shiota beautiful installation “Trace of Memory” which attempts to depict a journey of life as it comes and its memories using objects like luggage, books, and beds.
After you soaked in all the art exploring the city’s museums, it’s probably time for a coffee break. I recommend visiting the best-rated French bakery in the city- La Gourmandine for “A True Taste of France in Pittsburgh”. Owned by Fabien and Lisanne Moreau who were both born and raised in France and brought the traditional French bakery concept to Pittsburgh. Without a doubt the showstopper here is their Amande Croissant! And if you need something heartier, any of their exquisite quiches will do. (Did we say yummy!) La Gourmandine has four locations in Pittsburgh, though we recommend their downtown location for its welcoming sit-down area and friendly service.