president's noteFall 2009
“Andrew Carnegie dreamed of a day when Pittsburgh would be as famous for art as it was for steel. Could his dream be close to becoming a reality? ”

Photo: Josh Franzos

When the White House announced that the United States would host the G-20 Summit in Pittsburgh, the world took notice—and then, collectively, people the world over scratched their heads. Pittsburgh?  

That’s right, Pittsburgh.

Later this month, as word spreads about what journalists and G-20 delegates find here during their visits, we have every reason to hope that many of the misconceptions about our fair city will change for good (see Destination Pittsburgh). After all, one of the things the world will find here is The Andy Warhol Museum,   the definitive home of the art and archives of modern-day Pop icon and Pittsburgh native  son, Andy Warhol.

On September 25, The Warhol will host First Lady Michelle Obama and other spouses and guests of G-20 delegates for a lunchtime visit and tour. As Director Tom Sokolowski and his staff prepare for this great honor, I can’t help but think how fitting it is that The Warhol should play a special role in this international gathering of diverse peoples, cultures, and ideas. It’s a natural fit—for The Warhol, and all of the Carnegie Museums.

When it opened in 1994, The Warhol immediately became a day-one tourist attraction. Since then, the museum has fully embraced its mission “to be more than a museum” by being both a thought instigator and art explorer, regionally and internationally. One way it does this is by bringing out-of-the-box art and artists to Pittsburgh, such as famed street artist Shepard Fairey (see Poster Boy). Another way is by becoming one of this city’s most well-traveled ambassadors to the world, bringing the art of Andy Warhol to more than 6 million people around the globe—including 15 of the G-20 nations—through a near-constant stream of traveling exhibitions.

And The Warhol isn’t Carnegie Museums’ only global force. Last year, Carnegie Museum of Art once again brought the world to Pittsburgh for the 55th installment of the Carnegie International, which displayed the works of 40 of the world’s most thoughtful contemporary artists. Andrew Carnegie, who established the International more than 114 years ago, dreamed of a day when Pittsburgh would be as famous for art as it was for steel. Could his dream be close to becoming a reality?

In Carnegie’s day, Pittsburgh did indeed become almost as famous for its dinosaurs as its steel. And with the triumphant 2007-2008 return of Carnegie’s dinosaurs in Dinosaurs in Their Time, Pittsburgh—and the world—once again celebrated the true excellence in scientific exploration and interpretation that our Museum of Natural History first became known for a century ago. That tradition of scientific excellence continues today through the efforts of the museum’s prolific scientific staff, world-renowned for their groundbreaking work.  

Carnegie Science Center, too, is making its mark on the world. In June, the North Shore science attraction enjoyed the very public launch of roboworld™, the largest permanent robotics exhibit in the world and a true collaborative effort among scientists, academics, and corporate leaders in the field of robotics. A lot less public, however, is the fact that, every day, more than 400 planetariums in 20 countries feature shows created by the Science Center’s Buhl Planetarium staff, who explore the stars, the planets, living cells, and even Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood through their numerous planetarium shows, now translated into 18 languages.  

Surprised? Pittsburgh and Carnegie Museums are full of surprises.   

David M. Hillenbrand, President
Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh
Also in this issue:

Poster Boy  ·  The Whales' Tale  ·  Insect Appellant  ·  Destination Pittsburgh  ·  NewsWorthy  ·  Now Showing  ·  Face Time: Jason Busch  ·  About Town: The Art of Change  ·  Field Trip: Virtual Field Trip  ·  Science & Nature: Robots Rule  ·  Artistic License: Word Play  ·  The Big Picture