Perched in the Steel City's Cultural District downtown and staffed by passionate volunteers, the nonprofit ToonSeum pays homage to the art of the cartoon with rotating exhibits, kids' classes, and hands-on entertainment for all ages. Exhibitions have ranged from collections of original work to special displays honoring artists such as Pennsylvania native, Keith Haring. Contributing to the museum's ongoing educational mission, local cartoonists often donate their own time to teach fun-filled workshops or share the bleak realities of living with a talking cat.
Rising six floors above the historic Strip District, the Senator John Heinz History Center's handsome, redbrick exterior houses 275,000 square feet of exhibits and materials devoted to Western Pennsylvania. Long-term exhibits include From Slavery to Freedom, which traces the quest for equality from the antislavery movement to the modern struggles for Civil Rights, using indenture, manumission, and freedom papers from the Allegheny County recorder of deeds as starting points. Pittsburgh: A History of Innovation highlights the land's original inhabitants, the journey of Lewis and Clark, and the modern superhighways, whereas the Western Pennsylvania Sports Museum delves into the history and lore of local athletics, from the Steelers’ Immaculate Reception to Bill Mazeroski's title-clinching home run in game seven of the 1960 World Series. The museum also hosts nationally renowned traveling exhibits; its current offering is 1968: The Year That Rocked America which explores this decade-defining year using evocative objects, multimedia displays, and more than 100 artifacts related to 1968’s seminal moments.
Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh corrals four of the city's finest institutions, including the Andy Warhol Museum, Carnegie Science Center, Carnegie Museum of Art, and Carnegie Museum of Natural History. Members receive one year's worth of unlimited general admission to each Carnegie museum in addition to invitations to members-only exhibition previews and art heists. A subscription to the quarterly Carnegie magazine keeps members abreast of comings-and-goings at the museums and proffers in-depth discussions of current exhibitions. Inquiring noggins remain nourished with chewy tidbits of knowledge plucked from discounted classes, camps, and IMAX films. Those who like to travel can also get free admission privileges to more than 300 participating science museums throughout the nation, affording road trippers the chance to see the California Science Center or the Museum of Einstein's Mustache Combs. Redeem this Groupon by December 14 to ensure timely, pre-Christmas delivery.
Legendary entertainers Kenan and Kel made theatrical history when they broke down the fourth wall, and then, to the consternation of the set designer, broke down the second and third walls as well. Experience the magic of the stage with The 39 Steps at City Theatre. The Broadway production of the smash comedy-thriller has won two Tony Awards, the Drama Desk Award for Unique Theatrical Event, and the Olivier Award for Best New Comedy.
Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh delights children with hands-on learning and interactive exhibits that allow kids to interact with real stuff and do things they wouldn't normally do, such as hammer a nail, build a circuit, and ink a silkscreen. The museum welcomes nearly 250,000 visitors annually, encouraging them to explore its interactive permanent-exhibit areas, which include The Studio, Theater, Waterplay, Nursery, Backyard, and MAKESHOP.
MAKESHOP invites young minds and hands to tinker with sewing machines, woodworking, and electronics. Kids craft boats and build fountains in the nearby Waterplay exhibit, and in the Studio they form clay, paint portraits, and create paper from recycled-newspaper pulp. Infants, toddlers, and their families can play in the Nursery, where they build wooden train systems and then roll their trains around, comb colored sand with hand tools atop lighted tables, and ride a seesaw whose motion generates water bubbles.
The museum’s award-winning, three-story center building is screened by a shimmering wind sculpture and connects two historic structures—the Allegheny post office building and the Buhl Building. In 2006, it became a certified green building and was honored by the American Institute of Architects and the National Trust for Historic Preservation. In 2011, the museum was named one of the 10 Best Children’s Museums in the nation by Parents magazine.
The cloak of sparkling newness belies Benedum Center’s deep history in the theatrical world. Opened to regal fanfare and a holographic performance by Tupac in 1928, the theater then waded through the downs and ups of history until a $43 million restoration buffed its surfaces back to their former glory in 1984. Today, the 90 chandeliers dangling from the ceiling, the Grand Lobby’s mirrors and marble, and most of the 1,500 feet of brass rail throughout are all original. The centerpiece is the main chandelier, a 4,700-pound, 20-foot-high, 12-foot-wide behemoth that sparkles to remind visitors of the theater’s glory days.
Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hall & Museum, which holds a spot on the National Register of Historic Places, honors the men and women of today and yesterday who have served in the defense of our country. Exhibits chronicle the evolution of military technology and detail the impacts of war on society through art and artifacts spanning from the Civil War through the War on Terrorism.