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Lana and Fred Neumeyer
What They support:
Carnegie Patrons Circle
Why it matters:
“The most important thing that the Carnegie Museums are doing is bringing young people to the museums and saying, ‘we accept you.’”
Lana Neumeyer knows something about the need to feel welcomed. The Brazilian-born architect, clothes designer, and mother of two sons came to the United States in January 1990 so her late husband could receive medical treatment at UPMC Presbyterian Hospital. When he died six months later, the woman who spoke not a word of English made the decision to stay in Pittsburgh, enrolling immediately in language classes.
“We lost something, but then we gained something,” Neumeyer says of that pivotal time in her and her sons’ lives. “The people in Pittsburgh have always been so happy to hear that we’re not from here, and they have always been so welcoming to us!”
Today Lana lives and works in Pittsburgh with her husband, Fred Neumeyer, and the pair owns and operates an environmental-remediation company. Lana keeps her creative juices flowing designing her own clothes, and it’s at the Carnegie Museums that she’s found a cultural home. The couple’s annual support of the four museums runs deep for Lana.
The connection started with the time she and her sons spent at the Oakland museums during her late husband’s hospital stay; and, in the years after, when she was taking language classes in the nearby Cathedral of Learning. It continued with her fascination with Andy Warhol. “I never knew he was from Pittsburgh until his museum opened here,” she says. “When I was a university student in Brazil, all of us in the creative community could see that Warhol was doing something special. I go to The Warhol Museum all the time now; anyone who visits me, that’s the first place they want to go.” But when her grandchildren visit from Atlanta, it’s off to Carnegie Science Center.
Lana is particularly excited to be attending The Warhol’s 25th anniversary gala this October. If it’s anything like the 20th anniversary party, she says, it’s sure to be a memorable evening. “People came from all over the world—the museum is that important. And my picture ended up in the New York Times. I had friends calling from all over!” she says, laughing.
The artist in Lana has naturally gravitated to the art galleries at The Warhol and Carnegie Museum of Art. But it’s the mother in her that especially appreciates the two museums’ youth arts programs that focus on bringing teens into the museums on their own terms—and making them feel welcomed.
“The most important thing that the Carnegie Museums are doing is bringing young people to the museums and saying, ‘we accept you,’ sometimes even when the parents don’t.”
She marvels at the number of teenagers (400+) who attend The Warhol’s annual LGBTQ+ Youth Prom, where they find fun, inspiration, and tolerance. “I’m a mother of a gay son, just like Andy Warhol’s mother was. I’m on my son’s side forever, just like she was,” Lana says. “I accepted, with love, his friends, his partner, and his two beautiful children—they are my family. A lot of joy comes with this support, just like the joy brought through these kinds of museum programs.”
Lana says she’s a fan of the museums’ youth mentoring programs that invite older teens to work with artists and curatorial staff and help make the museums more relatable to other teens.
She recalls reading a recent interview with Sean Beauford, manager of teen programs at the Museum of Art, that appeared in Pittsburgh City Paper. In it, Beauford spoke about the satisfaction in getting young people to realize their own potential. “I tried to get them to understand they could do what they wanted, they didn’t have to wait for permission,” Beauford said of a group of teens participating in the museum’s Youth Art Initiative. “I think that was the first time they realized they could create their own thing … their own anything.”
“That’s so powerful!” Lana exclaims, her voice rising with excitement. “These programs aren’t about what you want teens to do—you let them create what they want to do!”
To learn more about giving opportunities at Carnegie Museums, contact Liz McFarlin-Marciak at email@example.com or 412.622.8859.
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