Travel

The Coolest Exhibits to Check Out in Pittsburgh Before They Disappear

Walking to the Sky sculpture
Walking to the Sky sculpture | Always Shooting/Flickr
Walking to the Sky sculpture | Always Shooting/Flickr

In 2013, a giant 40-foot rubber duck floated into the Point in Pittsburgh, and the city virtually came to a standstill to welcome this inter-quack-tive installation from Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman. As the first U.S. destination to host the duck, Pittsburgh not only proved that it’s a city with residents who have no problem taking silly Instagram photos of themselves next to a giant bath accessory, but also that it’s a city that loves quirky art (after all, it’s the home of Warhol and Randyland!). 

Pittsburgh’s art scene has only gotten better and more eclectic in the years since, but with so much going on, and only so much room on your Instagram feed, it pays to be choiceful about where and when you get cultured. With that in mind, make it a point to see all of these exhibits before they’re gone (although some are on permanent display). 

Katharine Hepburn: Dressed for Stage and Screen

Open October 19, 2019 through January 12, 2020 at The Frick Museum
Point Breeze
Old poops (and young poops who don’t get this On Golden Pond reference) will want to check out this exhibit at The Frick Museum that features costumes and fashions from four-time Academy Award winner Katharine Hepburn (beat that, Streep!). Lent by the Kent University Museum, the collection spans five decades of Hepburn’s career, with represented designers including the legendary Edith Head, plus posters, playbills, and other memorabilia.
Cost: Adults $15, Senior/Students/Military $13, Youth 6 to 16 $8, Youth 5 and under free

An Art of Change: Jasper Johns Prints, 1960 to 2018

Open October 12, 2019 through January 20, 2020 at Carnegie Museum Of Art
Oakland
As one of the dadas of the Neo-Dada movement, Jasper Johns has been called America’s “foremost living artist” and most expensive—one of his flag paintings sold for $28.6 million. Thankfully, you can check out this exhibit, which includes some of his flag images, for 0.0000007 of that Christie’s auction price.
Cost: Adults $19.95, Seniors $14.95, Students with ID/Children 3 to 18 $11.95, Youth 2 and under free

Short Story Dispenser

Open 24 hours a day at Carnegie Mellon University
Oakland
What’s better than when a vending machine starts dispensing free snacks? When a vending machine starts dispensing free short stories! OK, so maybe this is only better for voracious readers as opposed to eaters, but it’s still pretty cool. The kiosk is connected to an online database of stories, which includes works from CMU faculty, that prints out on biodegradable paper, so it’s not even terrible for the environment.
Cost: Free

Laboratory for Other Worlds

Open May 2019 through 2020 at The Mattress Factory
North Side
In this space, they can’t hear you scream. (Although they probably will hear you scream, so don’t do it.) Ever wish you could be in a sci-fi movie or on a sci-fi set? That’s kind of the idea behind this exhibit from Patte Loper, which utilizes painting, drawing, video, installation, and performance to convey broader ideas about social and environmental justice.  
Cost: Adults $20, Students/Veterans/Seniors $15, Children under 6 free

Cuando El Rio Suena ("When the River Sounds")

Open October 4, 2019 through January 26, 2020 at the Pittsburgh Glass Center
Garfield
Art often stimulates a conversation, and that’s exactly what Jaime Guerrero’s solo exhibition does. Cuando El Rio Suena explores the fragility of life by featuring glass-blown figures representing the children affected by the U.S. border crisis. Figures include some children whose stories went viral, like the two-year-old from Honduras who was separated from her mother. You need to see this one for yourself. 
Cost: Suggested $5 donation

Cell Phone Disco

Permanent display in the Cultural District
Downtown
Celebrate the fusion of art, science, and the addiction to your phone with this Downtown display that visualizes the electromagnetic field of an active mobile phone. The disco part is whatever Donna Summer song you choose to think of while you enjoy the display. 
Cost: Free

Holiday Magic and Winter Lights Show

Open November 29, 2019 through January 12, 2020 at Phipps Conservatory
Oakland
Bundle up (relax, most of it is indoors!) and explore 10 acres of gardens and lights that make you feel like you’re in a winter wonderland of greenery. Traipse through the festival of trees and a floating forest, and make sure to get a selfie with the all-new Rainbow Glow Tree that towers eight feet and has more than 150 glowing limbs.    
Cost: Adults $17.95, Seniors/Students $16.95, Children 2 to 18 $11.95

Nationality Rooms

Permanent display at the University of Pittsburgh
Oakland
The Nationality Rooms are a collection of 31 classrooms whose designs are influenced by the various ethnic groups that built the city of Pittsburgh, ranging from African to Korean to Yugoslav rooms. The annual open house is a Sunday in December (tentatively December 8 in 2019).   
Cost: Free

Mister Rogers' Neighborhood Collection

Special Collections Gallery at the Heinz History Center
Strip District
Make it a truly beautiful day in the neighborhood (specifically the Strip District) and live out your childhood dream of being on Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. Experience set artifacts like Mister Rogers’ entryway and living room, King Friday’s castle, Henrietta Pussycat’s Great Oak Tree, and more. 
Cost: Adults $18, Seniors $15, Students $9, Military $2 off admission

The Other Apartment

Open September 2019 from July 2020 at The Mattress Factory
North Side
Talk about a twist. This collaborative project from Pittsburgh-based artist Jon Rubin and Tehran-based artist Sohrab Kashani includes two identical apartments -- 6,300 miles apart! One’s in Pittsburgh, one’s in Tehran, and every detail in each apartment is exactly the same. The ultimate-cool way to experience this apartment project would be to have your twin in Tehran go to the apartment at the same time. Make it happen. 
Cost: Adults $20, Students/Veterans/Seniors $15, Children under 6 free

Silver Cloud Room

Fifth floor of the Warhol Museum
North Shore
Take a walk in the (silver) clouds in this room at the Warhol that’s literally filled with puffy, silver balloons. But rather than stick to the ceiling or fall to the floor, these balloons float lazily through the air thanks to the special mixture of air and helium that fills them. It’s such a simple concept, but it’s one of the most must-see things at the Warhol; a piece of art that can be enjoyed by all ages.
Cost: Adults $20, Students/Children/Seniors $10, Children 2 and under free

Carnegie Museum of Art
Carnegie Museum of Art | Bryan Conley

Margaret Honda

Open September 20, 2019 through January 26, 2020 at Carnegie Museum Of Art
Oakland
Experimental filmmaker Margaret Honda’s new sculpture has serious legs -- frog legs to be specific. Inspired by the amphibious creature in the Madonna delle Torri (1520) Renaissance painting from Bramantino, Honda’s creation measures five feet in length and includes details like internal organs. Kermit, this is not. 
Cost: Adults $19.95, Seniors $14.95, Students with ID/Children 3 to 18 $11.95, Youth 2 and under free

Infinity Dots Mirrored Room

Permanent at The Mattress Factory
North Side
One of the most Instagrammable art installations in Pittsburgh -- and in other cities where this work is featured -- is the Infinity Dots Mirrored Room by Yayoi Kusama. Two adjoining polka-dot mirrored rooms display reflections that go on and on and on, to… well, infinity. Go viral before you even post the pic. 
Cost: Adults $20, Students/Veterans/Seniors $15, Children under 6 free

Walking to the Sky statue

Open 24 hours a day at Carnegie Mellon University
Oakland
It kind of looks like a statue commemorating The Simpsons’ Escalator to Nowhere, with figures climbing upward toward the heavens, but Walking to the Sky is actually a sculpture signifying humanity’s determination against overcoming obstacles. (Doh!) Find some street parking (if you can!) and walk over to this structure so you can pose as one of the humans walking into space. 
Cost: Free

The Chelsea Girls Exploded

Open February 21, 2019 through March 22, 2020 at the Warhol Museum
North Shore
Andy Warhol’s 1966 film The Chelsea Girls is considered the ultimate representation of the Factory scene and 1960s New York. This exhibition celebrates Andy Warhol’s epic double-screen film masterpiece (two different reels of film are projected at the same time) by showcasing the film as well as memorabilia, photography, and art. 
Cost: Adults $20, Students/Children/Seniors $10, Children 2 and under free

It's all about ME, Not You

Permanent at The Mattress Factory
North Side
Artist Greer Lankton’s installation reimagines “white trash,” kitsch, and maybe even The Wizard Of Oz, with pieces including ruby slippers and the ends of striped stockings. It’s certainly a sight to behold, cluttered with statues and mannequins honoring the body, like a hoarder’s paradise. Although you may not look at Raggedy Ann the same way ever again. 
Cost: Adults $20, Students/Veterans/Seniors $15, Children under 6 free

Andy Warhol: Revelation

Open October 20, 2019 through February 16, 2020 at the Warhol Museum
North Shore
Did you know that Andy Warhol was a Byzantine Catholic? You may have figured it out if you’re a devout Warhol fan, since Christian motifs often appear throughout his work. This exhibition features 100 objects from the museum’s permanent collection, plus little-known works like the “sunset” film commission from 1967 and late-in-life masterpieces like his pink Last Supper from 1986. 
Cost: Adults $20, Students/Children/Seniors $10, Children 2 and under free

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Megan Mclachlan is a contributor for Thrillist.