A Little Time and a Keyboard: A Family Visit to The Andy Warhol Museum {Pittsburgh}

A Family Visit to The Andy Warhol Museum {Pittsburgh}

Monday, April 4, 2016

The Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh

Last year, I visited the Art Institute of Chicago with my daughter and she was determined to see at least one Andy Warhol. She had been introduced to his art and particularly enjoyed his famous pop art. While planning our trip to Pittsburgh, I learned that the city is actually Warhol's hometown. Today, the city is home to an impressive museum presenting his legacy and art. Since my daughter is such a fan, I added a visit the Andy Warhol Museum to our itinerary.

Andy Warhol chilling in a print in the cafe of the Andy Warhol Museum.
The cafe at The Andy Warhol Museum.
The museum is spread between seven floors. Visitors work their way chronologically through Andy Warhol's life from the top floor down. Previously, I did not know much about Warhol during his earlier years. Learning about his life from childhood on added something personal. His talent was very clear from the beginning and can be seen through early sketches and ad work. Most of us are quite familiar with Warhol's later work so seeing his early creations was quite interesting.

Of course, being able to observe some of Warhol's more iconic creations was amazing! The museum maintains a large collection, so the exhibits do rotate. On our visit, we saw celebrated pieces including Liz Taylor, Jackie O., Mick Jagger, Mao, the Campbell Soup can and more. While some of this artwork was familiar, we also enjoyed some new pieces like one of my favorites--a series on shoes.

Gift shop at the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh.
Plenty to look at in the gift shop!
Personal Effects

One museum gallery focused on personal artifacts such as bills, tickets, letters and other mementos. These items were quite interesting and opened some nice dialogue with our daughter about bygone eras. We also learned that in addition to being artist, Warhol was a collector of folk art like cookie jars and art deco pieces. Part of his collection was auctioned off after his death to benefit the Andy Warhol Foundation in support of the visual arts. Some remaining items are on display in the museum.

A Visit to "The Factory"

A particularly engaging portion of the museum is the replica of "The Factory." The silver room immediately captures attention. Inside the room, guests can take a simulated "screen test" as if they are potentially one of Warhol's undiscovered talents. The video is sent to your email, so may be a fun keepsake.

The Silver Clouds room is another immediate favorite where patrons can be a part of art with helium silver "clouds" floating about.

Overall, we had a fabulous time at the Andy Warhol Museum. We mixed our time between just standing and enjoying pieces that spoke to us with time reading more about the details of Warhol's life and techniques including his use of silk screening and double exposure. In general, I feel the museum is suited more towards older children. There is a lot to read and observe so a visit may be difficult for children with shorter attention spans. At 10-years-old, my daughter was at a great age for a visit. We had a wonderful visit and would definitely return!

Old polaroid cameras in the gift shp of The Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh.
Cool old school cameras in the gift shop!
Things to know:

  • Photography is prohibited in the museum.
  • There is a small kids area in the basement with a few toys, coloring and books. It is very small but may be worth a stop to give the kids a little down time.
  • There were a few items that may not be appropriate for children's viewing depending on their age and maturity level. I didn't see a ton we had to skip over and in honestly think there may have been fewer instances than in other art museums.
  • In support of local talent, the museum does hold public programs and will show art from other artists.
  • The gift shop is definitely worth a stop. You will find some locally produced art there, books and Warhol-themed items. I do hope the gift shop can expand its locally produced art selection in the future!
  • Check the calendar for engaging public events such as silk screening demos!
  • There is a cafe on the first floor for a light bite.
Thank you to Visit Pittsburgh for facilitating this review! Complimentary admission was received. No other compensation was received. All opinions are 100% my own.

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