Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh





Back Issues 


Inquiring Minds:

The Many Faces of Membership at Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh

By Kimberly M. Riel


Helene Prince is a native Pittsburgher who is proud to call herself a member of Carnegie Museums. She purchased a combined individual membership in 2001, yet, at the time, she says, “I never intended to participate in any of the events or openings that take place at the museums. I joined simply because I’m proud of the system of museums we have in Pittsburgh and I wanted to support them so others could reap the benefits of having world-class museums in their backyard.”


However, this summer, something about the invitation to Members’ Night with the Paparazzi at The Andy Warhol Museum struck Prince. “It was the first museum event I ever attended, and I admit that I went simply because I thought it would open some social doors for me, but it did a whole lot more,” says Prince. “That night was so much fun, and the people were so kind and enthusiastic about their work at The Warhol, that it brought a whole host of new experiences and an even greater appreciation for the arts into my life. As a result, I definitely plan to attend more events in the future.” 

Membership Has its Privileges

Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh began offering memberships to the public in 1947. At the time, the membership was called the Carnegie Institute Society, and benefits included free admission to the Travel Adventure Film Series, invitations to exhibition openings, and discounts on classes held at the museums. In the beginning, only a few thousand Pittsburghers belonged to the society. Today, approximately 100,000 people—1 in 25 Pittsburghers—enjoy membership at Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh, and the reasons people choose to become members are as varied as the benefits they enjoy.


“Our members are a large, diverse group of smart, creative people who are looking for good value, educational opportunities, and some quality time with their families,” says Ellsworth Brown, president of Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh. “Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh offers members all of these things and more.”


Depending on the level of membership purchased, members can gain access to all four Carnegie Museums and the programs, events, and exhibitions they offer with one membership card. “For less than it costs to spend the day at Kennywood, families can get a year’s worth of entertainment plus educational opportunities at some of the best cultural venues in the city,” says Karen Poirier, director of Membership. “Our members also have access to exclusive member programs and parties, an online calendar, email newsletters and email reminders about important museum events.”


Member Cynde Frederick knows a good value when she sees one, yet her reasons for joining Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh were not purely economical. She and her husband joined because they wanted the museums to be a cornerstone of their daughter’s education. “When our daughter was two, we brought her down to the Museum of Art to see the holiday trees and the Presepio,” says Frederick. “At that time, we purchased a combined membership because we decided that we wanted her to be able to take advantage of all that the museums offer.”


The Fredericks now bring their daughter to the museums at least once a month because their membership allows them the flexibility to drop in for just an hour or two without feeling like they need to spend a whole day to get their money’s worth out of their visit. However, the main reason they come as often as they do is because there is always something new and interesting to see or do.


“One of the best things about being members is that we receive advance notice of all the new exhibit openings, classes, and special events through CARNEGIE magazine,” says Ms. Frederick. “I don’t have to spend time flipping through the newspaper looking for enriching educational opportunities for our daughter because they’re delivered right to our door. All we need to do is sign up. And we haven’t been disappointed yet. Every class, every opening, every special event has been engaging and truly enjoyable.”


The Arts and Education  

Dr. Denes de Torok and his wife, Maria, share the Fredericks’ enthusiasm for the events and classes offered at the museums. “My wife and I have always appreciated the arts,” says Dr. de Torok. “We have an extensive art collection of our own, and we frequently visited Carnegie Museum of Art. So, when our granddaughter expressed an interest in developing her artistic ability, we purchased a membership so she would have unlimited access to the museums.”


Now, the de Toroks have two grandchildren. While their granddaughter gravitates to the Art Museum, their grandson loves the dinosaurs at the Museum of Natural History. “With our combined membership, we can make them both happy,” says Dr. de Torok.


Making their grandchildren happy while simultaneously enhancing their education and development are certainly reason enough to belong to Carnegie Museums, yet Dr. de Torok and his wife also joined because they believe the museums are an important part of Pittsburgh’s culture and they want to ensure the museums will be around for their grandchildren to enjoy for years to come. “Membership in the museums is important,” he says. “It makes a statement that one appreciates the important role the arts and sciences have in our lives.”

A Pittsburgh Treasure

Like the de Toroks, John and Kate Powell also have very simple reasons for purchasing their reciprocal membership to Carnegie Museums. Since they moved to Pittsburgh five years ago, they have been avid supporters of the museums.


“We joined Carnegie Museums almost as soon as we arrived here because we believe in the existence of museums and we feel they need to be supported,” says John Powell. “And even though we don’t have children, we purchased a higher level of membership because we wanted to be able to bring our nieces and nephews when they visit.”


“The museums give us a place to go to see things you can’t see anywhere else – like the Dodo Bird and dinosaurs in the Natural History Museum – and to learn things that you can’t learn anywhere else,” says Kate Powell. “They provide us with incredible growth opportunities as well as with relaxing, enriching entertainment.”


The Powells consider the four Carnegie Museums one of Pittsburgh’s best attributes, and, for them, it was one of the reasons they decided to call Pittsburgh home. “The Carnegie Museums are a highpoint of culture and education for everyone who lives in and around the city,” says John Powell. “Together, they help make Pittsburgh a truly great place to live.”


Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh members come from all over western Pennsylvania and from all walks of life. Some join as individuals; others with their families; still others with their place of business. Some join for the value and convenient access; others to take classes and participate in museum events; and some simply to support the arts and a Pittsburgh legacy.


No matter what their reason was for joining, most members stay with the museums for the same reasons the Powells do: “We renew every year for two reasons,” says John Powell. “The first is because we’ve developed personal relationships with some of the museum staff, and the second is because every time we visit the museums or attend an event, we are rewarded for our investment far beyond our expectations with experiences that are educationally sound, socially stimulating, and personally enriching.”   


For more information about the special benefits you enjoy as a member of Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh, please contact the Membership department at




Back Issues 


Copyright (c) 2002 CARNEGIE magazine 
All rights reserved.