The Pennsylvania Trolley Museum thrusts visitors into the midst of Pennsylvania's Trolley Era, conjuring bygone methods of travel with exhibits, rides, and a full roster of antique trolleys, including a horse-drawn streetcar from the 1870s. Hourly tours shepherd guests and members on their exploration of the museum's collection, starting with a video introduction before a scenic, four-mile ride fills the air with the sounds of century-oldf trolleys. Inside the visitor-education center, pictorial exhibits breathe life into storied eras, and stops inside the restoration shop illuminate how volunteer craftsmen restore vintage trolleys. Trolley fans can also add to their own memorabilia collections with souvenirs from the store, or borrow the museum spaces for birthday parties and rentals.
Established in 1832, J.J. Gillespie Gallery furnishes its walls with a wide range of art from American and international artists. In an attached workshop, a master framer meticulously preserves keepsakes inside custom wood or metal frames. The gallery also hosts an onsite art expert, who can appraise oil-based works or clean and restore them to their former luster.
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.
Though having only recently celebrated its second birthday, the August Wilson Center commands a striking architectural confidence. Its two-story steel-and-glass sail juts into the night sky with the bravado of a toddler who just lassoed his first neighborhood cat. Within the steal and glass, a 486-seat theater hosts plays, dance performances, and lectures while multiple exhibition galleries display art and cultural treasures for the community. The center draws on the legacy and culture of African Americans from Western Pennsylvania, infusing each curation with a celebration of rich history.
Sunday-morning visits to the grocery store are vastly improved by samples of toothpicked sausage bites and tiny cups of squash soup. Humanity's mysterious love affair with trial-sized morsels is in full effect with today's deal: for $20, you get access to one walking food tour of the Strip District from 'Burgh Bits & Bites, a $38 value (including tax and service fees). Tours meet at the Old St. Patrick's Church courtyard and depart at 10 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. on Thursdays and Fridays. Call ahead and namedrop your Groupon to reserve your spot on a tour.
Founded 115 years ago by Andrew Carnegie, the Carnegie Museums have grown into a cultural consortium containing four fine institutions: the Carnegie Science Center, the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, the Carnegie Museum of Art, and the Andy Warhol Museum.