Pittsburgh is a city with a rich cultural heritage and a diverse museum landscape. From art to science, history to technology, Pittsburgh’s museums offer something for everyone. Whether you’re a local looking for a weekend activity or a tourist planning a visit, this guide will help you explore the best museums in Pittsburgh.
The History of Museums in Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh has a long history of museums, dating back to the late 19th century. One of the earliest museums in Pittsburgh was the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, which opened in 1896. The museum was founded by Andrew Carnegie and featured exhibits on natural history, geology, and anthropology.
Over the years, Pittsburgh has continued to add to its museum landscape, with new museums opening up in various parts of the city. Today, there are over 20 museums in Pittsburgh, ranging from large cultural institutions to small, specialized museums.
Museums Near Downtown Pittsburgh
If you’re staying in downtown Pittsburgh, there are several museums within walking distance.
The Andy Warhol Museum
The Andy Warhol Museum is a must-visit for fans of pop art. The museum features a collection of Warhol’s artwork, as well as exhibits on his life and legacy.
The Andy Warhol Museum is located at 117 Sandusky St, Pittsburgh, PA 15212.
The Heinz History Center
Another nearby museum is the Heinz History Center, which explores the history of Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania. The museum features exhibits on everything from the city’s industrial past to its sports teams.
The Senator John Heinz History Center is located in Pittsburgh’s Strip District at 1212 Smallman St, Pittsburgh, PA 15222.
Best Art Museums in Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh is home to several world-class art museums.
The Carnegie Museum of Art
The Carnegie Museum of Art is one of the best-known, with a collection that includes works by Van Gogh, Monet, and other famous artists. The museum also hosts regular exhibitions and events throughout the year.
The Carnegie Museum of Art is located in Oakland near Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh at 4400 Forbes Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15213.
The Mattress Factory
Another top art museum in Pittsburgh is the Mattress Factory, which features contemporary art installations. The museum is known for its immersive exhibits, which often involve visitors in the artwork itself.
The Mattress Factory is located at 500 Sampsonia Way, Pittsburgh, PA 15212 on Pittsburgh’s North Side.
Pittsburgh Museums for Kids and Families
If you’re visiting Pittsburgh with children, there are several museums that are sure to keep them entertained.
The Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh
The Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh is a favorite among families, with interactive exhibits on science, art, and technology. The museum also offers regular workshops and events for children of all ages. It’s located in the old Allegheny City post office. Truly a historic location on Pittsburgh’s North Side – Allegheny Center.
The Childrens Museum of Pittsburgh is located on the North Side at 10 Children’s Way, Pittsburgh, PA 15212.
PPG Zoo & PPG Aquarium
Another great option is the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium, which features over 4,000 animals from around the world. The zoo also offers educational programs and events throughout the year.
The PPG Zoo and Aquarium is in Highland Park at 7370 Baker St, Pittsburgh, PA 15206.
Unique and Unusual Museums in Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh is also home to several unique and unusual museums.
The Bicycle Heaven Museum is a must-visit for bike enthusiasts, with a collection of over 3,500 bicycles from throughout history. The museum also offers repair services and bike rentals.
Bicycle Heaven is located at 1800 Preble Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15233 in the Chateau neighborhood of Pittsburgh.
Center for PostNatural History
Another unusual museum is the Center for PostNatural History, which explores the intersection of nature and biotechnology. The museum features exhibits on genetically modified organisms and other topics related to bioengineering.
The museum is located in the Garfield section of Pittsburgh at 4913 Penn Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15224.
Museums in Pittsburgh that Focus on Science and Technology
If you’re interested in science and technology, Pittsburgh has several museums that are sure to impress.
The Carnegie Science Center
The Carnegie Science Center is one of the best-known, with exhibits on everything from robotics to space exploration. The museum also features a planetarium and an IMAX theater.
The Carnegie Science Center is located on Pittsburgh’s North Shore at 1 Allegheny Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15212.
Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens
Another top museum in Pittsburgh is the Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, which features exhibits on plant science and environmental sustainability. The conservatory also hosts regular events and workshops on gardening and horticulture.
Phipps is located at 1 Schenley Drive, Pittsburgh, PA 15213. Also in Oakland near the Universities (CMU and Pitt).
Museums in Pittsburgh that Focus on History and Culture
Pittsburgh has a rich history and culture, and there are several museums that explore these topics in depth.
The Fort Pitt Museum
The Fort Pitt Museum is a must-visit for anyone interested in the city’s colonial history. The museum features exhibits on the French and Indian War, the American Revolution, and other key events in Pittsburgh’s past.
The Fort Pitt Museum is located in Point State Park, 601 Commonwealth Pl, Pittsburgh, PA 15222.
Nationality Rooms at the University of Pittsburgh
Another top museum is the Nationality Rooms at the University of Pittsburgh, which explores the city’s cultural diversity. The rooms are located in the Cathedral of Learning and feature exhibits on the customs and traditions of various ethnic groups that have settled in Pittsburgh over the years.
Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall and Museum
Located in Oakland, Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall is a magnificent building with a mixture of memorial and performance space. The halls enclosing the auditorium are the site of a museum honoring the veterans of America’s wars, including the Civil War, the Iraq War, and everything in between. The museum does an admirable job of displaying the stories of the service men and women who defended our freedoms throughout the history of this country.
Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall is located at 4141 Fifth Avenue in Oakland.
It’s not just about conventional museums in Pittsburgh
Every museum above is what you would consider a “conventional” type of museum. But did you know that Pittsburgh is also home to a whole bunch of smaller, more modern, more “unconventional”, or specialized museums? Take a look at the museums in Pittsburgh below that would be considered unique or unusual, and we’re pretty sure you’ll find one you’d like to visit.
Buffalo Bill’s House
For those who have seen The Silence of the Lambs, it is likely that you know Pittsburgh served as the backdrop for much of the movie. An iconic scene was filmed in Perryopolis, PA, and this home has been transformed into a tribute to the film, displaying all types of memorabilia from the movie to include an imitation of the well in the basement that you can take pictures with!
Visiting Buffalo Bill’s House at 8 Circle Street in Perryopolis, PA is made possible by a limited number of tours, usually occurring over a single weekend each month from spring to fall. It is then available as a private rental for the remainder of the year. To make sure you don’t miss out, booking in advance is recommended.
The Kelso Museum of Near Eastern Archaeology
The Kelso Museum of Near Eastern Archaeology is located in the basement of a hall at the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. This two-room museum focuses on excavations of holy sites in Israel, Jordan, and Syria that took place during the last 80 years by the seminary. Additionally, there is an interesting exhibit on the history of written language.
The Kelso Museum is located at 616 N Highland Avenue between Highland Park and East Liberty and is part of the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary campus.
The Living Dead Museum
The Living Dead Museum, which pays homage to the zombie genre, was established to recognize the iconic Night of the Living Dead movie which was shot about 30 minutes away from Pittsburgh in Evans City.
This store and museum are dedicated to everything associated with zombies, paying tribute to films such as The Night of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead. Its walls are adorned with memorabilia, photographs, and various zombie-related items. Make sure to visit them in October, when they host their yearly Night of the Living Dead celebration!
The Living Dead Museum is located in Monroeville, about 9 miles east of Pittsburgh, in the Monroeville Mall.
Trundle Manor in Swissvale is a museum that has been converted from a house and it is the perfect fit for those with an offbeat sense of humor. The residence belongs to Mr. Arm and Velda von Minx, two artists for whom goth-steampunk is an understatement to describe their creative style.
Their kitchen features a ceiling-mounted death ray, while the rest of the house is filled with curious decorations. Among them are taxidermy hybrid animals, small sculptures of renowned people (including one depicting a person baring their behind to the Queen of England), a jar containing a singing tumor, and a zombie-fighting car parked in the driveway. And that’s not all.
Trundle Manor, situated at 7724 Juniata Street in Swissvale, provides tours upon request. A cash or liquor donation is requested for those who wish to take a tour.
The Photo Antiquities Museum
At the Photo Antiquities Museum, you’ll find something more than a typical photography museum. While the museum has a collection of remarkable photographs, including distinctive shots of Pittsburgh, the main focus is the history of photography. There, you’ll be taken on a journey through the different ages of photography, with visuals from the era to back up the story. When you finish the tour, you’ll be in awe at how far photography has progressed in such a short span of time. Furthermore, the Pittsburgh snaps and temporary exhibitions are a bonus!
The Photo Antiquities Museum, situated at 531 East Ohio Street in Pittsburgh’s North Side, can be visited by booking a tour in advance.
The Roberto Clemente Museum
Nestled in a firehouse in Lawrenceville, the Roberto Clemente Museum houses a massive collection of items from the great Pirates legend. Amongst the many artifacts, visitors can find a gold glove award, autographed items, and rare pictures that pay homage to one of the most renowned Pirates in history.
The Roberto Clemente Museum, which can be found at 3339 Penn Avenue in Lawrenceville, offers tours by appointment only and does not permit children.
The Old Allegheny County Jail Museum
The legendary Allegheny County Courthouse was once connected to an old jail. The Bridge of Sighs pathway led from the courthouse to the cell block. The jail is no longer there, but the Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation has created the Old Allegheny County Jail Museum. This museum has a preserved section of the actual cells and also displays items from the jail’s more than 100-year history. These items range from pictures of when children were held there, to artifacts from attempted escapes.
The Old Allegheny County Jail Museum is situated in the heart of the city at 440 Ross Street as part of the Family Services Court. It is open to the public from 11:30am to 1pm on Mondays from February to October, not including holidays.
Saint Anthony’s Chapel
It might come as a surprise, but the city of Pittsburgh holds a chapel that houses the largest collection of Catholic relics outside of the Vatican. This is Saint Anthony’s Chapel in Troy Hill– a small building that contains thousands of relics, complemented by life-sized stations of the cross that allow visitors to view the story of Jesus’ Crucifixion tangibly.
The chapel of St. Anthony is situated on Harpster Street in the Troy Hill.
Troy Hill Art Houses
Have you ever heard of the Troy Hill Art Houses? Well, it’s a bit of an anomaly, but you have to see it to believe it! These three dwellings were commissioned by a local who hired special artists to craft amazing artwork inside of them. If you want to get an impression of the artwork, just search for La Hutte Royal on Google and you’ll get an idea of what awaits you when you visit.
The Troy Hill Art Houses, which require advanced reservations, are only accessible to those 16 years of age and older. They can be found at 1812 Rialto Street in Troy Hill.
The Western PA Model Railroad Museum
Open during the holiday season, this museum houses a colossal model train exhibit that replicates the railway route from Pittsburgh to Cumberland, Maryland, as it appeared in the 1950s. Individuals can easily spend multiple hours traversing the numerous days on the railroad due to the track lighting that varies a few times an hour, providing an exclusive viewpoint of the tracks.
The Western PA Model Railroad Museum is at 5507 Lakeside Drive in Gibsonia, and open only during the holidays.
The Pittsburgh Tattoo Art Museum
The Pittsburgh Tattoo Art Museum, on Walnut Street in Shadyside, offers a glimpse into traditional American tattooing with six cases of artifacts. These showcases include profiles of early 1900s artists, their styles and pieces of early tattooing equipment. Those interested in this form of art can take their time to take in the collection and if they are fortunate, even meet the tattoo artists who curated the museum.
The museum is located at 5413 A Walnut Street in Shadyside and a $5 donation is requested for visitors.
The Bayernhof Museum provides a unique opportunity to experience a remarkable selection of self-playing music machines – most of which are still in working order! A wide range of different instruments, from some of the earliest music machines to those used to add sound to silent films, can be found here, including dueling violins and a self-playing banjo machine.
Located in O’Hara Township just a few minutes outside Pittsburgh up Route 28 North, the Bayernhof Museum offers tours by appointment only.
Randy Gilson, a local artist, conceptualized an idea in the early 1990s when he purchased two North Side houses using a credit card. His mission was to bring a splash of color to the area, so he set about painting the buildings in a variety of eye-catching hues and transforming the common objects he found into decorative works of art. His creation is a truly unique place that must be seen to be appreciated.
Randyland is located at 1501 Arch Street in the North Side.
The USS Requin at the Science Center
The USS Requin, a Tench-class sub, was launched during WWII, yet it did not get out before the war was over. This vessel had a 25-year career in the military until it was decommissioned in the 1970s. In 1990, it was transported to Pittsburgh, where it is now connected with the Carnegie Science Center. To take a tour of the sub, an additional $7 ticket is required, in addition to the museum admission fee.
Astrobotic’s North Side facility plays host to the Moonshot Museum, which does an excellent job of informing visitors about past and upcoming missions to the moon. A visit to this quaint museum is a must for all those who are interested in learning about Astrobotic’s endeavors to propel us to the moon and eventually a lot further. If you’re lucky, you may even get to observe the team while they are assembling the lunar rover!
The Moonshot Museum is situated at 1016 N Lincoln Avenue in the North Side.
The Big Mac Museum
Just outside of Pittsburgh in Ross Township lies the birthplace of the Big Mac. To honor its legacy, a McDonald’s franchise in Irwin/North Huntingdon has created the Big Mac Museum. It’s a small exhibit featuring the history of the sandwich, as well as McDonald’s memorabilia from the years. There’s even a giant fiberglass Big Mac in the play area! Despite its small size, the museum is worth checking out if you’re an enthusiast of unusual attractions.
The Tour-Ed Mine & Museum
The Tour-Ed Mine and Museum in Tarentum stands out as a distinctive attraction, as it is located in an old coal mine! This visit lets you discover the history of coal mining, observe the progress made since the 1800s, and much more. One of the most intriguing things about this museum is that many of the displays are located within the depths of the mine.
The Tour-Ed Mine and Museum is located at 3004, 748 Bull Creek Road in Tarentum.
St. Nicholas Croation Catholic Church – The Maxo Vanka Murals
Those interested in European art must visit St. Nicholas Croatian Catholic Church in Millvale: on the outside, the church appears to be like any other, but inside there are murals painted by Croatian artist Maxo Vanka. In the 1940s, Vanka was a famous artist, who created these murals as a “gift to America,” containing social commentary that is still relevant to this day. In recent years, the murals have been fully restored and are now ready to be viewed in splendor.
St. Nicholas Croatian Catholic Church is located at 24 Maryland Avenue in Millvale.
At 1733 Lowrie Street in Troy Hill, you can find the Gallery Closed museum which has a unique concept. This museum is always open, yet closed, as visitors can only enjoy it by viewing the art from the outside. The art changes regularly, with the first show after opening in late 2021 changing every two weeks. In addition to the art, there is a historic plaque on the building commemorating the past of the former Pittsburgh incline station of the Troy Hill Incline and a faux historical plaque outlining the history of Troy Hill, from its emergence from the ocean millions of years ago up to the present and future.
Gallery Closed is located at 1733 Lowrie Street in Troy Hill.
Pittsburgh Museum Events and Programs
In addition to their regular exhibits, Pittsburgh’s museums also offer a variety of events and programs throughout the year. The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust hosts the annual Three Rivers Arts Festival, which features live music, art exhibits, and food vendors.
Another popular event is the Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix, which takes place each July. The event features vintage cars, live music, and food vendors.
Why Pittsburgh is a Must-Visit Destination for Museum Enthusiasts
Pittsburgh’s diverse museum landscape is a testament to the city’s rich cultural heritage and commitment to the arts and sciences. Whether you’re interested in art, history, or technology, there’s a museum in Pittsburgh that’s sure to impress. With so many great museums to choose from, it’s no wonder that Pittsburgh is a must-visit destination for museum enthusiasts. This list of museums in Pittsburgh is certainly not all-inclusive. These are just a few of the more well-known museums; some are admittedly off the beaten path, and some are quite obvious. But… if you’re looking for a great way to spend a visit to Pittsburgh by visiting some of the museums, this list is a great place to start your plan. While you’re at it, you can always add a visit to some of the great restaurants in Pittsburgh, or take a ride on the inclines in Pittsburgh.
The Pittsburgh region is becoming more of a destination site that every, due to it’s diverse culture, beautiful skyline and great people! Enjoy your museum visits, and let us know what you think!
Here is an interactive Google Map of museums in Pittsburgh.