A birthday is a good time to take stock. Both Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh celebrated their 100th anniversaries in 1995, and at Carnegie Museums we took the opportunity to look to the future as we paid our respects to the past.
The institution underwent a tremendous expansion in the last decade, beginning with the Carnegie One Hundred committee of community advisors, whose recommendations helped launch the Second Century Fund. In 1995, this campaign came to a spectacular conclusion. Carnegie Science Center was fully integrated into the overall organization, and The Andy Warhol Museum began to find its stride. We celebrated the openings of new exhibition halls and other improvements.
The years of the Second Century Fund campaign were a time of introspection as well as growth. Now, rather than settling down to business as usual, we are focusing outward, looking at how the community has been changing and at possible barriers between the museums and the people for whom they were created. Our goal is to remove those barriers and turn our four museums into even friendlier places, gathering places, and part of everyone's life.
As you can see, we began by changing our name. Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh states more clearly what we do and where we are and includes Carnegie Science Center and The Andy Warhol Museum, avoiding "The Carnegie's" association with only the Museum of Art and Museum of Natural History in Oakland. While our legal name remains Carnegie Institute, the four museums are distinguishable from Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, which shares overlapping services and trustees, but is a separate organization.
Last year's annual report announced a strategic planning project with the Pittsburgh office of McKinsey & Company, Inc. With their help, we have been studying ways to better structure, manage, and direct ourselves. The results can be found in several initiatives launched in 1995, and in a number of new programs, more aggressive marketing, and greater flexibility overall that will be seen more directly in the coming year.
One plan to make the Museum of Art and Museum of Natural History more welcoming and easier to use is to create an interior "free zone" the length of the building. The zone will be a kind of town plaza visitors can enter free to meet a friend, eat at the caf‚, or visit the museum shops. While there, they will find comprehensive information on museum exhibitions and programs; maps and directories along with occasional tables, comfortable chairs, benches and lamps; and computer access to the library's information network. These amenities will accommodate visitors' needs more completely and make them feel more welcome as they contemplate the remainder of their stay.
Providing a comfortable place to gather without requiring any fee should encourage people to stop by often, feel more at home here, and add some life to our dramatic public spaces. A grant from the Howard Heinz Endowment in 1995 is enabling us to focus on making the interior of the Oakland building more welcoming.
New marketing strategies that inform are important, but ones that invite are even more so. Whether we broadcast television commercials of a museum that can boogie, as we did for the Centennial Opening Event, or make more information available at each museum about events and exhibitions, the new mood at the Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh is one of openness. These changes, complemented by staff training and market research, will help convey what we do here to those who don't know us, and make all of the museums more accessible to those who do.
Helping to oversee this philosophical shift will be five new trustees named to the Board in 1995. Suzanne W. Broadhurst is an active public service volunteer and serves on many Boards, including The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, Carnegie Science Center, and United Way of Allegheny County. Jerry E. Dempsey is chairman of the board and chief executive officer of PPG Industries, Inc. Dr. Henry J. Gailliot is chairman of Federated Investment Counseling. Dr. Peter R. Heinze is senior vice president, Chemicals Group, PPG Industries, Inc., and George L. Miles, Jr. is president and chief executive officer of WQED Pittsburgh. In an independent initiative to broaden the range of people served, the Museum of Art was one of four museums nationwide to receive a grant from The Pew Charitable Trusts for audience research and community outreach. The primary aim of the project is to know the people in our community better so that we can provide programs that we are sure will meet their needs. The museum selected three distinct segments of the community-African-Americans, families with young children, and university faculty and students. We will learn what programs are most desired, what are the barriers to attendance, and what are the avenues through which these groups gather information about us.
Working with the teachers at Boyce Middle School in Upper St. Clair brings us in touch with another population. Our project with Pittsburgh's McCleary Elementary School, discussed in last year's report, brings us into contact with an urban population in a community that lacks many resources. The suburban Boyce Middle School and its community have different needs. From these two programs we can learn how to work with various kinds of schools, and then share what we know with other cultural organizations.
The Museum of Natural History is also developing new ways to reach out. The In-School Program continues to serve the local schools, but taking programs to schools in outlying communities was difficult. With a grant from CNG Foundation, the museum can now provide assemblies in schools several hours from Pittsburgh. But when a hundred or more school children are all focused on a person standing on a stage, of course, one objective is to entertain. With that in mind, the museum hired actors from Carnegie Mellon University and trained them to do science shows that keep the children engaged while they learn. Grant money as well as some money from the schools cover travel costs and the price of a motel room, enabling the presenters to stay in an area for a couple of days and visit several schools on each trip.
In 1995, the Science Center also made long-range plans that tied into the McKinsey & Co. recommendations. Market research indicated that visitors expected more frequently changing exhibits, and more interactivity. At Ports of Discovery, for example, every visit results in a different experience, based on which animals are awake, where a visitor participates at the water table, or which of the games or projects appear most captivating that day. The staff of the Science Center worked with a team of teachers to develop first-floor exhibits that would provide a similar level of interactivity while connecting with school curricula. A grant from The Grable Foundation enabled us to do this project, and the new exhibits based on flight, natural forces and waves will be complete by November of 1996.
Another result of this long-range planning was the decision to develop traveling exhibits. Collaborating with researchers from Carnegie Mellon University and with local industry, the Science Center will have a new Robotics exhibition in place in the fall of 1996. This topic was chosen because it ties in with the developing technology of this region and fulfills the Science Center's mission to enable visitors to become secure enough with science and technology to profoundly affect their lives and their careers. When this exhibit travels, the Pittsburgh region itself will be showcased as a leader in robotics and other advanced technologies.
As we studied our institution, it became clear that if we were to improve our communication with visitors, we would also have to improve internal communication. This is especially true of a complex organization such as ours, with museums on three sites, off-site storage, and Powdermill Nature Reserve in the Laurel Highlands. To this end, we are establishing an electronic network that will utilize Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh's new county-wide network. And we are planning the installation of an automated ticketing, reservations and scheduling system that will link all of our museum sites, providing audience survey and admissions information to many departments. This system has been funded generously by the Richard King Mellon Foundation.
But the Internet can do much more than that. The Museum of Natural History is already exploiting this new technology with NATUREnet, which is being developed by a consortium of museums to catalogue and make available the biodiversity of North America. New ways of transmitting information are developing all the time, and it is the job of the museum to keep up with technology and provide that information, because in many cases the museum itself is the source. Why do we develop these tools of virtual reality? "We are reality," says Jim King, director of Carnegie Museum of Natural History. "Virtual reality is a tool to help people know what we have and to explore the scientific discoveries about our dinosaurs or other collections in ways that were impossible a few years ago."
"Museums are user-friendly," King says. "Children come here ready for some fun." Soon they may find computer stations next to artifacts or works of art. They may call up a museum home page on the school computer, or enter a dialogue with a museum curator on a chat line. No technology will replace the relationship between a visitor and an object, but information adds new dimensions to the objects, deepening the relationship. While the Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh are physical places, they run on information.
The past year, then, was a year to pause, evaluate, and lay a course for the future. But it was also a year to celebrate, and since most birthdays are celebrated with a party, Carnegie Museums and Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh threw an enormous party for 28 straight hours from Friday, October 6 through Saturday, October 7. There were fireworks, games, party favors, giant cakes and-since this was no ordinary birthday party-tours of a submarine and an all-night cult film festival. This free occasion was attended by 56,000 people and was the work of 900 specially trained volunteers and 800 staff members. The efforts of Janie Thompson, chairperson of the Centennial Celebration, and Suzy Broadhurst, chairperson of the Centennial Opening Event Planning Committee, were especially noteworthy. These two volunteers can take much credit for the success of the celebration.
On November 5, the actual anniversary of the opening of Carnegie Institute and Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, a Rededication Ceremony was presented before an invited and near-capacity audience in Carnegie Music Hall. The event, which was coordinated by trustees Edith H. Fisher and James A. Fisher, featured a multimedia history of the Institute and Library that included bagpipe music, video, slides, and live performances. During the ceremony, Arthur Ziegler, president of the Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation, presented a plaque naming the building a historic landmark.
Also in honor of the anniversary, we launched a new major gifts effort we are calling Centennial Patrons. This group of supporters, 142 as of this writing, responded to our invitation to make a contribution ranging from $1,895 to more than $10,000. Centennial Patrons were invited to experience the museums on a more intimate level through special tours and receptions with the directors and curators, and to know that they are furthering the work of a 100-year-old institution that enriches western Pennsylvania and touches the lives of millions of people each year.
While the entire organization was involved in the Opening Event, each museum also held programs to mark the anniversary. At the Museum of Art, the exhibition calendar was dominated by the 52nd Carnegie International, which was postponed one year so that it could coincide with the Centennial. This exhibition, which was sponsored by PNC Bank Corp., once again drew visitors and art media from all over the world. Held in conjunction with the International, Monolithic Architecture was The Heinz Architectural Center's first major exhibition to contribute to the dialogue on contemporary architecture.
Other major exhibitions at the Museum of Art included the Pittsburgh premiere of The Cave, a music and video installation by composer Steve Reich and artist Beryl Korot that opened in January. This work premiered in Vienna in 1993 as a contemporary opera on a stage; as an installation, it made use of five simultaneous video monitors in a specially constructed wall. Karl Friedrich Schinkel, 1781-1841: The Drama of Architecture opened in February and exhibited the designs of this important 19th-century architect whose work was largely unknown in this country prior to Germany's reunification. From March through May, the museum hosted a large silver exhibition, Silver in America, 1840-1940: A Century of Splendor. The flatware alone included spoons specifically for eating pudding, berries, oysters, olives, oranges, grapefruit and ice cream, illustrating the American desire to draw attention to these expensive new foods.
One special contribution the Museum of Art made to the Centennial was the publication of a book of collection highlights. The exquisite, full-color book contains a history of the collection by museum director Phillip M. Johnston and will be a valuable resource for many years to come.
And finally, 1995 saw the resignation of Johnston, who will depart in May 1996. Johnston came to the museum in 1982 as curator of decorative arts and became director in 1988. Projects accomplished during his tenure include The Heinz Architectural Center in 1993 and The Andy Warhol Museum in 1994, the reinstallation or refurbishment of every permanent collection gallery, a conservation program that tripled in size, endowments for art acquisitions and the directorship, the Forum gallery program, and increased educational programs. At The Andy Warhol Museum, we launched an exhibition program of artists closely related to Warhol, beginning with Jean-Michel Basquiat: The Blue Ribbon Paintings and, during the International, an installation by the German artist Joseph Beuys: Arena-where would I have got if I had been intelligent! The Weekend Factory, a playful and popular educational program, was started last spring and lets visitors experiment with Warhol's own artistic techniques.
Looking ahead, plans were drawn up for a major exhibition of Andy Warhol's work to travel to Japan in 1996, consisting of 125 paintings, eight sculptural works, 55 drawings, photographs, archival materials, room environments and a film program. Warhol was profoundly influenced by a visit he made to Japan in 1956, the first time he had traveled overseas. "In Japan, Warhol deepened his vision of himself as an artist," explains curator Mark Francis.
The most visible change at the Museum of Natural History was the opening of the newly renovated Hall of North American Wildlife in November. The hall's classic dioramas were refurbished and enhanced with insects, plants, birds and small mammals to create complete biomes. The male Alaskan Brown Bear had been inappropriately shown in a family group that has now been reconfigured with the large male outside the glass in a menacing posture.
Apart from this "new" hall, the past year was primarily a year of base- building at the museum. Contractors finished the space that will hold the Alcoa Foundation Hall of Native Americans, and exhibit fabrication has begun. The subject of the hall, which will open in the summer of 1997, will be native cultures and their relationship to the natural world. It will also explore the realities of being a native person today, in circumstances in which it can be difficult to maintain a link to one's heritage.
In May, Chris Beard and Mary Dawson from the museum's Section of Vertebrate Paleontology and colleagues from the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology in Beijing discovered fossils documenting an early stage in the evolution of higher primates while working alongside the Yellow River in central China. The 40 million-year-old primate, represented by its complete lower jaws, was named Eosimias centennicus in honor of the Centennial. This discovery supports a new theory-that the higher primate lineage, which includes the distant ancestors of humans, split off from all other primates about 55 million years ago, during the early part of the Age of Mammals. Many people visit the Science Center for the fantastic voyages that take place there. The Henry Buhl, Jr. Planetarium produced both Through the Eyes of Hubble and Journey into the Living Cell in 1995, and packaged both shows for global distribution. Journey into the Living Cell was funded in part by the National Science Foundation with the largest grant ever awarded for a planetarium production. Additional funds were provided by The Buhl Foundation and SmithKline Beecham. Developed in collaboration with two departments at Carnegie Mellon University, the Studio for Creative Inquiry and the Center for Light Microscope Imaging and Biotechnology, the program uses computer graphics and video in an interactive experience that lets the audience determine the path through the cell components. These remarkable programs are made possible by a new kind of planetarium projector, the Digistar II, which is actually a computer graphics projection system that displays images on the planetarium dome. We were able to purchase the Digistar II with a gift from the Emma Clyde Hodge Memorial Fund.
In the Education Division of the Science Center, the number of students who participated in the programs grew significantly. Workshops, Discovery Days, and Science Caravan had students searching for missing planets, building an aircraft, or finding out how different items react when chilled with liquid nitrogen. Children learned some of the basics of math and graphing when they studied each other's pets, and saw science come to life with baby chicks as well as penguin and ostrich eggs. These outreach programs reached 168,500 students in all, a 23% increase over 1994 and a strong indication that we are meeting important needs.
When Phillip Johnston attended a conference in Chicago last year to discuss the importance of the arts, he repeatedly ran into people who had spent time in Pittsburgh, growing up or going to school or working. Without exception, they each remarked on the enormous effect of the museums and libraries on their lives. One man, when he was young, had spent every afternoon after school at Carnegie Institute until his mother could pick him up. It had been his safe zone and a place to be completely free. A young local attorney mentioned recently that the Museum of Art had gotten him through law school-that he came to the museum when he was feeling tense or overwrought.
The best reasons to keep doing what the Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh have been
doing for the past 100 years are people like that. The goal is simply to find new
ways to be that safe zone, that solace, and that place of learning, for as many people
This annual report was prepared for the Office of the President by Ellen S. Wilson.