Fall 2007
100 years ago

100 Years Ago
By Betsy Momich

"I have been in a dream from the moment I entered this Institute yesterday. I have been in a dream all morning, and I am not yet awake … I confess to you, as I have had to confess to several, that I am totally unable to realize that I have had any part in creating this Institute. I have the same feeling about our summer home in Scotland. I do not think any man ever loved the moors, locks, and mountains more deeply than I, and yet I walk over them and can not feel the slightest sense of ownership.  I doubt whether there is a man or woman living who can really own mountains and streams and lochs and miles of heather. I do not see how he can grasp the fact that they belong to him.  I utterly fail. And here I can no more get a conception that this Institute, this great and beautiful gem, which astonishes Mrs. Carnegie and me alike, is my work."

-An excerpt from Andrew Carnegie’s opening remarks at the three-day dedication for his expanded Carnegie Institute.  April 11, 1907.


Andrew Carnegie wasn’t exactly known for his modesty. Yet, in the printed records of the grand, three-day dedication in honor of  Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh’s (then, Carnegie Institute’s) first expansion, the compact-sized man with the outrageously large vision seemed genuinely moved and humbled by what he saw.

He saw a building—his “monument,” as he called it, built originally for $1 million—more than doubled in size and quadrupled in scope. What had been a five-acre span of mostly library space had become a sprawling, 14-acre campus that included the new Dinosaur Hall, the grand Halls of Architecture and Sculpture, a marble Grand Staircase surrounded by 69 original murals, and a breathtaking foyer for his beloved Music Hall, among other notable spaces—all of it built at about five times the cost of the first building, and all of it funded by Andrew Carnegie.

Gathered at his expanded monument on April 11, 1907, Carnegie also saw dignitaries from academia, the museum world, and international politics, joined by workers from his steel mill, all there to celebrate his tremendous gift to Pittsburgh and the world.

President Theodore Roosevelt, sending his regrets for not being able to attend the dedication, wrote a note that Board Secretary Samuel H. Church read during the opening celebration. “Wealth is put to a noble use when applied to purposes such as those the Carnegie Institute is so well designed to serve,” the note read. “Every such institute, every foundation designed to serve the educational uplifting of our people, represents just so much gain for American life, just so much credit for us collectively as a nation.”

Today, as Carnegie Museums prepares to celebrate yet another major expansion—the expansion of its world-renowned dinosaur exhibit to create Dinosaurs in Their Time— it will pause, ever so briefly, to celebrate that first expansion and honor its deep roots in the Pittsburgh community. On September 20, Carnegie Museums returns to its tradition of honoring major donors at its Founder-Patrons Day celebration. (The event had become a fundraiser before switching back to its original purpose this year.) And from the stage of Andrew Carnegie’s beloved Music Hall, President David Hillenbrand plans to acknowledge the 100-year anniversary of the institution’s first great expansion.  

Hillenbrand, the eighth president of Carnegie Museums, knows a little about   the pride and amazement felt by Andrew Carnegie 100 years ago. As the current  occupant of the stately President’s Office, and someone who gets to sit at the desk  that many say once belonged to Andrew Carnegie, Hillenbrand has been obviously pleased and humbled by his surroundings since taking his post in July 2005.

“This is an amazing place of sophistication, culture, and beauty,” Hillenbrand notes, “but at the same time, it’s a place where children are encouraged to be kids—to be curious, and question what they see,  to be inspired to paint, and write, and just explore. And adults are encouraged to remember the kid inside themselves, and to be the dreamer and thinker we all aspire to be, at any age. It’s magical.” 
Also in this issue:

Inside Out  ·  Art on a Grand Scale  ·  The Real Deal  ·  Hidden Treasure  ·  Adding More Andy  ·  Giant Steps Toward Building the Future  ·  Director's Note  ·  NewsWorthy  ·  Now Showing  ·  Face Time: Ron Wertz  ·  About Town: Summer Sleuthing  ·  First Person: Tracing the Making of a Collection  ·  Artistic License: Dissecting Art  ·  Science & Nature: Mind Games  ·  Another Look: The Warhol's Film & Video Collection  ·  Then & Now: Body Language