Guide to the Best Museums in Pittsburgh

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If you’re spending a rainy or snowy day in Pittsburgh, it’s not hard to find inside things to do in Pittsburgh because the city is full of museums! Pittsburgh has top-rated and nationally recognized museums for diverse interests ranging from art to science to history to niche.

This guide to the museums in Pittsburgh will hopefully help you decide how to spend some free time in the city. Keep reading to discover Pittsburgh’s amazing museums!

History Museums in Pittsburgh

Heinz History Center and Western Pennsylvania Sports Museum

The Senator John Heinz History Center is Pittsburgh’s premier history museum, and you can spend a whole day there exploring. The Heinz History Center has 5 floors of exhibits where you learn about the Heinz family and their businesses, Pittsburgh technology and innovation, the French and Indian War, the Lewis and Clark expedition, slavery and freedom in Western Pennsylvania, World War II, Mister Rogers Neighborhood, along with rotating exhibits.

The museum also includes smaller exhibits that display some of the museum’s more interesting collections. One of our favorites an exhibit featuring artifacts relating to the cultures that settled in Southwestern Pennsylvania including the Irish, Polish, and German people.

The Heinz History Center is affiliated with the Smithsonian Institution, so Pittsburgh has the unique opportunity to see traveling exhibitions curated by the Smithsonian. These exhibits are included in the regular admission to the museum.

Mister Rogers Neighborhood set pieces

Western Pennsylvania Sports Museum

Within the Heinz History Center building is the Western Pennsylvania Sports Museum, which showcases the region’s athletic pride. This museum has two floors of exhibits about major league sports like football, baseball, and hockey, along with boxing, golf, auto racing, and the history of Negro baseball leagues. You’ll learn about famed Pennsylvania athletes and sports teams from the high school level to the professional level. Here you can see artifacts from Steelers, Pittsburgh Penguins, and Pirates and relive some of Pittsburgh’s most famous sports moments.

Western Pennsylvania Sports Museum

Fort Pitt Museum

Travel back in time to the earliest days of Pittsburgh at the Fort Pitt Museum, located at Point State Park. Fort Pitt was constructed by British forces between 1759 and 1761 and witnessed the French and Indian War, Pontiac’s War, and the American Revolution. After a community settlement began, Pittsburgh was born.

Outside the museum, you can see the last remaining structure of Fort Pitt, the Blockhouse. The Blockhouse is open seasonally for visitors.

If you’re a history buff, there are TONS of historical sites in Southwestern Pennsylvania from National Parks to other history museums and sites.

Visit both Fort Pitt and the Heinz History Center! Visitors to Fort Pitt Museum can present proof of admission at the Heinz History Center to receive reduced admission. Offer valid same- and next-day only. The admission fee paid at Fort Pitt will be applied toward regular admission at the History Center. 

The Frick Pittsburgh and Clayton House

The Frick in Pittsburgh is a group of museums and historic buildings that were developed around the Frick family’s nineteenth-century residence. The Frick family was prominent in Pittsburgh during the industrial revolution. Henry Clay Frick founded the H. C. Frick & Company coke manufacturing company, was the chairman of the Carnegie Steel Company, and played a major role in the founding of the manufacturing giant U.S. Steel.

At the Frick Historical Center, you can tour an art museum, a museum of the Frick’s vehicles, their greenhouse, and estate. One of the buildings on the property has been converted into a lovely gift shop and cafe! Visiting the Frick Historical Center is a great activity if you want to learn about local history and the Frick Family.

Soldiers and Sailors Museum

The Soldiers and Sailors Museum is located in the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial on the University of Pittsburgh’s campus. This beautiful building was constructed to serve as a memorial for local military servicemen from the civil war. Since then, the memorial has been rededicated to all veterans of all wars. The museum circles the large auditorium where Pitt hosts graduations and events. Over time, people began to donate their artifacts and physical histories from wartime, which lead to an “accidental” collection. Hence, the museum’s archive began.

The Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall in Pittsburgh is the largest memorial in the United States dedicated solely to honoring all branches of military veterans and servicemen. In addition to serving as a memorial, the building serves an auditorium and museum.  Today, there are exhibitions featuring artifacts from the Civil War to modern-day conflicts. ⠀

Rivers of Steel Heritage Area

Southwestern Pennsylvania is part of the Rivers of Steel National Heritage Area, commemorating the region’s history of steel production. The Rivers of Steel organization maintains several historic properties that also serve as museums, which we’re highlighting here.

Carrie Blast Furnaces

Bost Building – Rivers of Steel Headquarters and Visitors Center

The Bost Building is recognized as a National Historic Landmark for its important role in the Homestead Lockout and Strike of 1892, a labor conflict between union workers and the Carnegie Steel Company.  The Bost Building served as headquarters for the Amalgamated Association of Iron and Steel Workers and as a home base for newspaper correspondents reporting on the strike.

Today the Bost Building serves as the Rivers of Steel headquarters and contains an archival collection of industry-related objects, exhibits about the U.S. Steel Homestead Works, the 1892 Homestead Lockout and Strike, and temporary exhibits that are inspired by this history.

Carrie Blast Furnaces

Pittsburgh powered the nation’s steel industry, and it would not have been possible without blast furnaces, which smelted iron so that it could be shipped to mills and turned into steel. The Carrie Blast Furnaces are the last remaining blast furnaces in the Pittsburgh region, a must-see for those interested in Pittsburgh’s industrial history.

Photo Antiquities Museum

Photo Antiquities Museum of Photographic History was founded to preserve and present the history of photography. This museum in Pittsburgh is one of the most unique and underrated. It’s a small museum with a huge collection of photography-related equipment and historic photographs.

Visit rooms filled to the brim with cameras and photographs. The cameras you will see wonderfully represent the changes in photography technology over the centuries, ranging from wet plate cameras to Kodak brownies to professional Hasselblads. There is also videography equipment on display, too. The museum exhibits photographs in numerous mediums, including Daguerreotypes, ambrotypes, tintypes, lantern slides, stereo views, and paper process photographs.

Roberto Clemente Museum

The Roberto Clemente Museum in Pittsburgh is a museum dedicate to preserving the life and legacy of the “Great One,” Roberto himself. The Clemente Museum is housed in historic Engine House 25 in Lawerenceville, right next door to the museum owner’s restaurant and wine bar. The Roberto Clemente Museum in Pittsburgh is truly a hidden gem in the city.

At the Roberto Clemente Museum, you can see hundreds of photographs, documents, and items from Roberto Clemente’s life. Some of the most interesting items include his offer letters from the Pittsburgh Pirates, original seats from Forbes Field, baseballs from the player’s famous hits, and Roberto’s many awards (including his Gold Gloves!) ⁠

Roberto Clemente’s life on and off the baseball field left an impact on the game, the Civil Rights movement, and the city of Pittsburgh. Today, visitors to the Roberto Clemente Museum can honor and remember his legacy.⁠

Natural History Museums and Science Centers in Pittsburgh

Carnegie Museum of Natural History

The Carnegie Museum of Natural History is our favorite museum in Pittsburgh.  The Museum of Natural History includes collections of dinosaurs, minerals and gems, taxidermy animals from around the world, Egyptian artifacts, Native American culture exhibits, and much more! It’s very easy to spend an entire day at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History! Some of our favorite exhibits in the museum include the hall of gemstones, the dinosaur fossils display, and the anthropology exhibits.

The Museum was founded by the Pittsburgh-based industrialist Andrew Carnegie in 1896 and maintains an international reputation for research and is ranked among the top five natural history museums in the United States.

The museum gained prominence in 1899 when its researchers unearthed the fossils of a Diplodocus carnegii. Today, you can see this enormous dinosaur on display. Visitors and staff have dubbed this dino as “Dippy” and he’s become quite a celebrity in Pittsburgh with his own Twitter account. You can also see a bronze sculpture of Dippy outside the museum along Forbes Avenue. Other famous specimens include one of the world’s only fossils of a juvenile Apatosaurus and the world’s first specimen of a Tyrannosaurus rex.

When visiting the dinosaur collection, don’t forget to stop by the PaleoLab and see if any researchers are at work on some fossil. If you have kids, they can try their hand as a paleontologist and dig for dino bones at the Bone Hunters Quarry.

Throughout the year, the museum hosts traveling and special exhibitions on the top floor of the museum. Past exhibits have included the top National Geographic Wildlife Photos and Welcome to the Anthropocene.

Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens

Enjoy the beauty of nature without ever leaving the city. Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens is an incredible destination for those who love plants and flowers. Founded in 1893, Phipps includes a 14-room historic glasshouse and 23 distinct gardens.

Phipps Conservatory Broderie Room

Phipps has several permanent exhibits, such as the Desert Room and Tropical Fruit and Spice Room, along with rooms that change with themed seasonal exhibits. We are especially fond of the Sunken Gardens, which look different every time we visit. Some shows last several months while others may only be around for a few weeks, so be sure to check the schedule and plan your visit in advance!

Carnegie Science Center

The Carnegie Science Center is a great place to have some hands-on science fun. At the museum, you can learn all about outer space, the human body, the natural sciences, and engineering. The Science Center features the Robot Hall of Fame, a large miniature train exhibit, a planetarium, and theaters for interactive science shows. The Science Center is also home to the Rango’s Theater, an IMAX theater that plays documentaries, new movies, and your favorite classics.

The Miniature Railroad & Village at the Carnegie Science Center is an awesomely large and detailed model train diorama of Western Pennsylvania from 1880 to 1930. During our visits to the Science Center, we love walking around the exhibit and looking for parts of the display that tell different stories about Western Pennsylvania!⁠

The Sports Works Center, an extension of the Science Center, is mostly aimed at children and gives kids a chance to be active and learn about the body mechanics of athletics.

During the spring and summer, you can also tour the USS Requin, a Cold War submarine that is docked along the river.

The Carnegie Science Center also will host rotating traveling exhibits. In the past, the Science Center has hosted one of the largest collections of mummies, interactive works of Da Vinci, and extreme Lego structures.

Moonshot Museum

Pennsylvania’s first space museum is located right here in Pittsburgh! The Moonshot Museum is co-located at the headquarters of space robotics company Astrobotic and is run by the Astrobotic Foundation, a nonprofit organization that promotes STEM education and career readiness.

At the Moonshot Museum, you can discover how science and technology are getting humans back to the moon. Watch the assembly of lunar spacecraft in real time through the Clean Room Windows, embark on a simulated lunar mission, and explore what it’s like to visit and live on the moon.

Art Museums in Pittsburgh

Carnegie Museum of Art

The Carnegie Museum of Art is connected to the Carnegie Museum of Natural History and features art from the classical era to the modern era. Your admission to Natural History gets you into the art museum as well!

Andy Warhol Museum

Andy Warhol, the artist of the famous Campbells soup cans, was a Pittsburgh local so it’s appropriate that there is a whole museum dedicated to his work.

Andy Warhol was a leading figure in the visual art movement known as pop art. While the Campbell’s Soup Cans are some of his most recognized work, Warhol painted striking portraits of celebrities, created films, and used techniques like silkscreening for printmaking. At the museum, you’ll walk through how his artistic style changed with time and how he had a dramatic influence on the art world. The Andy Warhol Museum, a member of the Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh, is the largest museum in the United States dedicated to a single artist (with 7 floors of exhibits!). ⁠

21+ Nights at the Carnegie Museums

Throughout the year, the Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh offer themed 21-and-over events where you can come have a drink and learn from activities at the museum. These nights let your inner child out with an adult twist. Previous themes have included Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, and Jurassic Park. Check out the museum’s websites and Facebook pages for event announcements

Mattress Factory Museum

The Mattress Factory is an art museum “laboratory” in Pittsburgh and is a favorite of those who enjoy contemporary art. The museum was founded in 1977 as a place for contemporary artists to exhibit their work and explore new ideas. This museum features 5 floors of exhibitions in the main building, then additional works in the annex buildings.

The Mattress Factory Museum is located on Pittsburgh’s Northside, just down the street from Randyland.

Children’s Museums in Pittsburgh

Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh

The Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh is the best museum to take your family. This museum is full of hands-on activities for sparking curiosity and fun. Exhibits promote skills like creativity and building, and expose children to different sensory experiences like waterplay, outdoor play, and gardening. The

In 2019, the Children’s Museum opened MuseumLab, a space for children ages 10 and up to experiment with making, art, and technology. The MuseumLab is located next to the Children’s Museum building in the historic former Carnegie Free Library of Pittsburgh, a wonderful example of the reuse of a beautiful historic building.

Plan Your Visit to Pittsburgh’s Museums

Map of Pittsburgh Museums

Museums Near Pittsburgh

Pennsylvania Trolley Museum

Celebrate the history of trolleys, streetcars, and historic transportation at this museum in Washington, PA. Take a four-mile round trip on a scenic trolley ride, explore a collection of nearly 50 trolley cars, and enjoy fascinating exhibits Learn more here.

Meadowcroft Rockshelter

Discover 19,000 years of history at Meadowcroft Rockshelter in Washington County. A rock overhang was once a shelter for early Indigenous people of the region and is considered by archaeologists to be the earliest known site of human habitation in North America. Also explore a recreated prehistoric Native American village, a recreated 1770s frontier trading post, and a collection of transportation vehicles. Learn more here.

The Westmoreland Museum of American Art

Explore American history through works of art at the Westmoreland in Greensburg, PA. Featuring changing exhibits and permanent displays of paintings, sculptures, and decorative arts. Highlights include a gallery of western Pennsylvania landscapes both rural and urban and historic German folk art. Learn more here.

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