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A Legacy of Love

As a young girl, Evelyn Bitner Pearson often attended lectures with her father, Harry M. Bitner, at Carnegie Museums.  Now, as a trustee of her father’s trust, Evelyn is carrying on his legacy of love for the museums.

            Harry Bitner was a former managing editor of the Pittsburgh Press and went on to be publisher of Hearst Corporation newspapers in Pittsburgh and Detroit and general manager of Hearst newspapers in New York.  He also purchased several radio and television stations throughout the country, which he sold to Time, Inc. in 1958.  The funds from the sale of his media holdings were used to set up the H.M. Bitner Charitable Trust.

            Evelyn is one of four family members who serve as trustees of the H.M. Bitner Charitable Trust.  She says that each family member adheres to the same adage when administering funds from the trust:  “We give where we live.”  Evelyn chooses to direct funds annually to Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh’s general operating fund—not only because of her father’s appreciation for the arts and culture, but also because of her personal affection for the museums.  She says, “I remember coming to the museum when I was in the fourth grade at Linden School.  It was 1920 and I was 10 years old.  I fell in love with a French sedan chair that was on display.”  Her interest in French culture blossomed, and she studied the French language in high school and at the Pennsylvania College for Women (now Chatham College).

“Carnegie Museums is beneficial for everybody.  It’s educational and exciting.”

            In addition to being a bona fide Francophile, Evelyn is an accomplished writer.  At age 89, she published a biography of her family, titled Chronicle of an American Family.  She is currently writing a mystery.  “I had to be a good writer,” Evelyn says.  “My father wouldn’t have had it any other way.”

            Evelyn is a long-time member of the museums, and still visits frequently.  She enjoyed the 1999/2000 Carnegie International and the Museum of Art’s Light! exhibition.  A resident of Oakland, she occasionally stops in Carnegie Café for lunch.  She also has traveled with Carnegie Museums on excursions for members to Washington, D.C., and New York City.

            She is confident that her father would have approved of her using his trust to support Carnegie Museums. “Carnegie Museums is beneficial for everybody,” Evelyn says, “It’s educational and exciting.”

Southern Italy travelers with host Tom Sokolowski (bottom right)

Travel with Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh

When you travel with Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh, a museum expert is your host.  And, for many members who travel with the museums, that’s the best part about the trips.

According to Janie Thompson, who traveled to New Zealand last February on a trip hosted by Carnegie Science Center Director Seddon Bennington, “With a museum director or curator, you get first-hand knowledge about the things you are seeing.  Plus it’s fun to get to know them on a personal basis.”  Of her trip to New Zealand with native New Zealander Bennington, she said, “It was wonderful to see a country through his eyes.” 

Janie, a trustee, and her husband, Harry Thompson II, a Museum of Art docent, frequently travel with Carnegie Museums.  They were among a group of nine who spent 17 days exploring the two main islands of New Zealand.  Seddon wrote in an article about the trip published in the April 29 edition of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, “My training as a marine zoologist, as well as my professional and personal interests in art history and Polynesian anthropology, influenced the itinerary that I put together for Carnegie Museums’ trip.”

Janie urges members who haven’t traveled with the museums to consider a trip as a way to enhance their appreciation for the museums that they love.  “I think members who go on the trips become more interested in the museums’ undertakings,” says Janie.  “You develop more of a sense of ‘ownership’ about them.”

For Robert Barker, who traveled with a group of nine hosted by The Warhol Director Thomas Sokolowski to Southern Italy last March, Tom was the main attraction. “Tom manages to communicate with each traveler on his or her own level,” says Robert.  “Plus, he has a great sense of humor.”  Although Tom isn’t a native of Italy, he lived in Rome for more than three years during the 1970s. “He knew all of its back streets and private places,” says Robert. 

Tom says, “My goal is for every traveler, regardless of his or her previous travel experiences, to learn something new.”

There are, of course, many other benefits to traveling with Carnegie Museums, including special access to private homes and rarely seen treasures.  Robert’s favorite part of the trip to Southern Italy was an afternoon spent at a private villa. “It was a real treat to sit in the family’s living room and look at the contemporary family photographs on the tables.”

 Robert, who is single, says that members shouldn’t hesitate to take a trip with the museums just because they don’t have a traveling companion.  “As you would expect, the people who travel with the museums are very sophisticated.  I was never without invitations for dinner, cocktails, or other social outings.”

For more information about traveling with Carnegie Museums, please call 412.622.5774 or e-mail


Member Tips

Extended Summer Hours

Summertime is a great time to enjoy the museums with our extended visitation hours through Labor Day.  Starting July 9, Carnegie Museum of Art and Carnegie Museum of Natural History will be open Mondays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.  Through July, the Museum of Art will continue to be open until 9 p.m. on Thursdays.  Carnegie Science Center is open Sundays through Fridays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.  From August 4 to Labor Day, the Science Center’s new exhibition, UMPC SportsWorks, will be open Mondays through Thursdays from 12 to 10 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays from 12 to 11 p.m., and Sundays from 12 to 6 p.m.

Summer Traveling Companion

Pack your membership card when traveling this summer and enjoy great reciprocal privileges.  Membership cards with Carnegie Science Center privileges are honored at more than 200 science centers in this country and abroad.  Reciprocal members also enjoy free admission to about 30 major art and natural history museums.  To find out if there is a participating museum or science center near your vacation destination, stop by a membership desk on your next visit or call 412.622.3314.

Leadership Donors Honored at May Dinner

Leadership donors to Carnegie Museums’ 2001 Annual Sustaining Fund were honored at a dinner held May 16 at Carnegie Music Hall.  Leadership donors are individuals who contribute $1,895 and above, and corporations or foundations who contribute $5,000 and above in annual unrestricted gifts.

            More than 200 guests enjoyed an evening that included cocktails, dinner, music, and the chance to chat with Carnegie Museums’ president Ellsworth Brown and members of the Board of Trustees, who were on hand to personally thank these leading donors. 

For More Information

The Development Office coordinates fund-raising and membership activities for Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh.  Below is a helpful list of telephone numbers to call.

Membership: 412.622.3314

Donor Information: 412.578.2472

Corporate Membership and Sponsorship: 412.622.5771

Carnegie Patrons Circle: 412.578.2472

Planned Giving Opportunities: 412.578.2478

Travel Program: 412.622.5774

For general information, please call 412.622.1995.



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