now showingWinter 2008

carnegie museum of art

Holiday Must-Sees

Italian, Neapolitan presepio, 1700-1830, Carnegie Museum of Art. Photo: Tom Little

What’s black and gold and red (and green) all over? This year’s Holiday Tree Display at Carnegie Museum of Art, on view in the Hall of Architecture through January 8, 2009. To celebrate the holidays and Pittsburgh’s 250th anniversary, members and friends of the museum’s Women’s Committee and Carnegie Library have adorned five 20-foot-high pine trees with handmade ornaments of bridges, steel mills, rivers, and other proud Pittsburgh sights. Museum visitors are invited to make ornaments of their own for display on special trees located at the museum’s entrance.

Also on view in the Hall of Architecture is another holiday perennial: the Neapolitan presepio
a museum tradition since 1957. Handcrafted by artisans between 1700 and 1830, this dramatic re-creation of the Nativity scene within a vibrant panorama of an 18th-century Italian village comes to life through more than 100 painstakingly modeled human and animal figures and
architectural elements.

Last Call for Mars

Mike Kelley, American, b. 1954, Kandors (installation view), 2008

The end is near—for Life on Mars, that is. Now in its final weeks, the 55th installment of the Carnegie International, which runs through January 11, 2009, showcases the works of 40 artists from 17 countries. The exhibition has earned critical praise for a stellar selection of paintings, sculpture, film, installation art, and other media. Whether on your first or fifth visit, one of the best ways to explore Life on Mars is through a daily guided tour. Free with museum admission, the drop-in, informal tours start at 1:30 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday, and a second tour is offered Thursday at 6 p.m. So don’t wait! Life on Mars, as we know it, will be over soon.

Walking In Their Footsteps

Illustration: Mark A. Klingler

You could very well say that the Museum of Natural History’s OvirapTour is for the birds. After all, this virtual tour, now showing in Earth Theater, journeys through time exploring the intriguing connection between dinosaurs and the winged things that soar above us today. Audience members go head-to-head in video game challenges to compare and contrast the differences between dinos and birds—and discover the missing links between them.   

And while OvirapTour draws conclusions about whether birds are, in fact, dinosaur descendents, Dinosaur Prophecy attempts to unravel the mystery of how the great beasts disappeared from the planet 65 millions years ago. This short video visits four dinosaur graveyards to reopen the longest unsolved cold case ever.
Both shows run on Saturdays and Sundays in Earth Theater. Free with admission to the museum, this pre-historic double feature is a great way to cap a visit to Dinosaurs in Their Time.

Evidence for Evolution

Charles Darwin had a revolutionary theory or two about the origins of life on Earth. And to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the Brit biologist’s birth and the 150th anniversary of his groundbreaking book, The Origin of Species, Duquesne University and Carnegie Museum of Natural History are partnering to present Evidence for Evolution. This 10-part lecture series will explore the impact of evolution from a variety of perspectives and nationally-known scientific minds.

Talks will cover a range of topics, from how Darwin developed his earth-shaking ideas to a new Darwinian approach to medicine and health. The museum's own Chris Beard, head of vertebrate paleontology, will discuss early primate evolution, while Sandra Olsen, curator of anthropology, unearths the roots of man’s first successful attempts at horse domestication. Scientific-geared lectures will take place on Fridays from Jan. 16 to April 17, 2009, on Duquesne's campus. On Saturdays at 1 p.m., the same topics will be delivered for a general audience at the Museum of Natural History, and are free with admission.

The Big Sleepover

Maybe the word “sleep” isn’t quite right. Some 7,000 youngsters will spend the night at Carnegie Science Center this year—and realize their dreams to explore hundreds of hands-on exhibits, take part in specially-themed activities, and enjoy nearly endless fun from dusk to dawn.

With dozens of Science Sleepovers to choose from,  nocturnal fun includes a special viewing of The Polar Express and build-your-own gingerbread houses during a night filled with the holiday spirit; big-bang fireworks events during Pittsburgh’s annual Light Up Night; and a unique Urban Legends snooze-a-thon that puts to bed plenty of common myths, such as the so-called explosive dangers of eating Pop Rocks and drinking carbonated beverages. Sleepovers can be booked for individuals, families, and groups such as scouts, church groups, and even college students. For more information, visit

Just Messing Around

Kids are invited to kick off 2009 with a big, yucky bang during Carnegie Science Center’s third annual MessFest. Bigger, better, and messier than ever, this New Year’s Day blast encourages youngsters to get down and dirty as they explode gelatin, blast off fizz rockets, and even crack a yolk or two during the egg drop workshop.

While the grownups are busy watching football games or shopping at the mall, kids are invited to just mess around! Free with Science Center admission. And a word to the wise: This is one party you don’t want to dress up for!

the wwarhol

Weekend Factory Goes Retro

During the run of the museum’s new 1958 exhibition, The Warhol is turning back the clock at The Weekend Factory, its lively, family-friendly weekend studio program. Kids and adults will take a trip down memory lane as they dress up in era-specific clothing to pose for photos in a period-perfect family rec room. The only thing missing is the Ed Sullivan Show and Davy Crockett coonskin cap.

For a more creative challenge, visitors can create a fabulous ‘50s keepsake by silkscreening an apron or card with images of a Coca-Cola bottle, Texaco gas pump, Ronco pancake flipper, or other icons from the “We Like Ike” decade. Participants can even learn the blotted-line drawing technique that made Andy Warhol one of New York City’s most sought-after illustrators in the 1950s. Get in on the fun Saturdays and Sundays from noon to 4 p.m.

Go Pop With Andy

Looking for a way to make that next birthday, anniversary, baby shower, bar mitzvah, or corporate conference an event to remember? Book a Pop Party at The Warhol. Four different packages offer partygoers a variety of anything but the ordinary, which is exactly the point.
Each option includes a gallery tour and at least one additional activity. Along with discovering what Pop Art is all about, attendees will learn why Andy Warhol elevated Campbell Soup cans, Brillo boxes, and other everyday objects to an artistic level. Partygoers can also get a taste of the creative life by learning basic silkscreening techniques to craft a Warholesque self-portrait. For more Pop details or to book a Pop Party, call 412.237.8358.

Also in this issue:

Darwin’s Big Bang: 150 Years Later  ·  Paging Doctor Darwin  ·  The Horse  ·  1958  ·  Director's Note  ·  NewsWorthy  ·  Face Time: Eric C. Shiner  ·  Artistic License: Inside a Fantastical Mind  ·  About Town: A Wild Weather Adventure  ·  Science & Nature: All Hail the Telescope  ·  First Person: Experiencing Life on Mars, Together  ·  Another Look: Andy Warhol's Time Capsules