Museums are boring, right? Maybe they were on your 7th-grade field trip, but they certainly don’t have to be. And, in Pittsburgh, the exact opposite is true. There’s so much history and culture flowing through the city that our museums are full of exciting and continually updated exhibits that will blow you away.
But hey, you don’t have to take our word for it. See for yourself at these 17 must-visit museums in Pittsburgh. Let the exploring begin!
Cartoons + Museum = Toonseum. Head to the Cultural District to visit this boutique (read: small, but mighty) museum that is filled with cartoon and comic related artwork. Short on time? No sweat. With about 100 pieces on display, this cozy gallery is perfect for a pre-dinner distraction or a lunch break breather. Cape and sidekick optional.
Carnegie Museum of Art
Prepare to be inspired. Packed with art from the Middle Ages through all the -isms, you’re sure to find something worth an Instagram post. We’re talking an echoing sculpture hall, floor-to-ceiling paintings, existential neon lights, and exhibits that will make you think deeply and probably laugh a little too. The CMOA has been around since 1896, so they know a thing or two about keeping Pittsburgh cultured.
It’s no wonder Pittsburgh is turning into one of the most bicycle-friendly cities in the country; we have two-wheeled eternity. This colorful North Shore warehouse boasts over 90,000 miscellaneous bike parts for sale and thousands of bicycles to view. See vintage cycles creatively named Bone Shaker, Stingray Stealth, Gray Ghost, and Bowden Spacelander or check out a few two wheelers featured in the films A Beautiful Mind and Super 8. If you’re serious about cycling or just want to see some really crazy bikes, plan a trip to Bicycle Heaven.
Does your imagination need a reboot? Looking for a fun spot to entertain little ones? The Children’s museum has you covered. Visit this beautiful Northside compound to find the ultimate kidzone. There’s a mini grocery store, a garden, kid-friendly art galleries, a Makeshop for DIY artwork, and even a life-size Muppets display. For adult only drink-in-hand creative time, go to the Children’s Museum’s MakeShop 21+ nights. Who knows? You just might find Neverland.
Step into the Bayernhof Museum, and you’ll feel like you’ve dropped into the greatest mystery novel of all time. Located just outside the city, this mansion has secret rooms, remarkable artwork, and all the fixings of a world-famous museum. You’ll see and hear hundreds of antique and rare automatic music boxes that are on display throughout the mansion, and your tour will unveil many hidden secrets of this marvelous estate. If that isn’t enough incentive, there’s a cave…
The Mattress Factory is unlike any museum you’ve been to. Yeah, it’s art, but it’s art you can get into — as in, literally step on and run your hands over. Infinity mirrors and polka-dotted mannequins, geometric light boxes, and picturesque Northside views make for one awesome afternoon. Great for groups or dates, the Mattress Factory is a must-see visual playground.
Carnegie Science Center
We promise this museum is just as cool as it was in 4th grade. Probably better because you’ll ditch the awkward groups and parent chaperones to visit the Science Center exhibits a la carte. You’ve got plenty to choose from: trains, robots, earthquake simulators, a real submarine, water wars, a psychedelic laser show with a Pink Floyd soundtrack, and regular features on the Omnimax big screen. Seriously, what’s not to love? Whether it’s a post-brunch adventure or a pre-casino pit stop, the Science Center is a MUST for everyone — kid or just kid at heart.
Center for PostNatural History
We bet that you can’t name a single other place to see a ribless mouse embryo or a BioSteel Goat. Part museum, part evolutionary mind warp, the exhibits at the Center for PostNatural History will get you thinking about genetically altered species and why they’re important to humans. If that doesn’t excite you, then the full tank of Glofish will definitely brighten your visit.
Fort Pitt Museum
You’ve probably been to Point State Park and taken in the awe-inspiring delta view, but have you visited the Fort Pitt Museum? If not, you’re in for a treat. Hip didn’t happen overnight, so it shouldn’t surprise you that Pittsburgh’s critical role in the French and Indian War, American Revolution, and the early days of the Republic secured our town a pretty sweet spot in U.S. History. Learn why at the museum, then stroll to the Point to take it all in.
Do you like public art? Lawn furniture? Friendly neighbors? Well, Randy does, and he wants to share his art park with the world. Venture to the historic Mexican War Streets and look for an energetic corner lot bursting with bright colors and recycled furniture. Sit for a while or stroll through, just don’t be surprised if Randy walks over to say hello.
Carnegie Museum of Natural History
Put down the paleo-inspired snack and meet the original Paleo princesses at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History. There are 66 million-year-old dinosaur fossils, enough rare gems and minerals to bedazzle PNC Park, an Egyptian tomb, and a stuffed zebra. Yes, we mean lions and tigers and bears…and plenty of extinct fish. Feeling like Indiana Jones by the end of your visit is another perk.
Missing your re-runs of the Adams Family? Here’s your fix. Plan a trip to Mr. Arm and Velda Von Minx’s Trundle Manor. This house — inspired by the gothic Adams Family home — is worth a visit to indulge your dark side. Warning: it’s weird. Like, really weird. But, if sadistic medical devices and murder weapons sharpen your interest, make an appointment to visit the manor.
Frick Art and Historical Center
A Pittsburgh legend with the beard to prove it, Henry Clay Frick was an industrialist, notorious businessman, and one of the wealthiest people in American History. Want to feel like a steel baron for the day? Visit Clayton, his fully restored Gilded Age mansion, to view the historical luxuries of steeltown royalty.
Soldiers and Sailors
Check out this Oakland staple to learn about U.S. Military History. If history isn’t your thing, don’t worry—visit because the building is a work of art itself. Built in 1910, this landmark meets Fifth Avenue with one of the most well-kept, stately lawns in Pittsburgh, cannons and all. Dr. Hannibal Lecter stopped by, why shouldn’t you?
Roberto Clemente Museum
Pittsburgh claims our fair share of world class athletes, but you’d be hard pressed to find one more loved or respected than Roberto Clemente. Enter the remodeled Engine 25 firehouse in Lawrenceville to experience The Great One’s legacy. With memorabilia from 18 years of Buccos’ baseball and other artifacts from Clemente’s humanitarian and personal ventures, this museum will leave you speechless and probably a little thirsty. Luckily, EngineHouse 25 Wines shares the same building!
Heinz History Center
It’s safe to say that Pittsburgh loves Pittsburgh. We know why. You know why. This museum proves it. Go here to boost your pride in place and learn about how the City of Champions became America’s most livable city. Sports lovers will be especially delighted by the Steelers, Pirates, and Penguins collections. There’s also plenty for foodies, history buffs, and fashion lovers alike.
Andy Warhol Museum
A warehouse turned Warhol sanctuary. Explore seven floors curated by decade to witness the Pittsburgh native’s artistic evolution and see the works that inspired rockstars and the rest of us to appreciate art for the fun of it. You’ll find films, photography, iconic paintings, eclectic artifacts, and residue of Warhol’s creative spirit at every turn.