Museums are places for respite and peace for many of us. They’re also meccas for learning, especially for children, but also for those who know no matter how old you get, you never truly stop learning.
The Best Museums in Pittsburgh for Adults
For those who are eager to put on their thinking cap, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, is the place to go. From the bizarre and macabre to testing your body strength to taking a peek at the life of a Pittsburgh art hero, these are the best museums in Pittsburgh for adults that make our shortlist.
1. Carnegie Museum of National History
With the commitment to teaching that we all are part of nature, the Carnegie Museum of Natural History (CMNH) is the place to visit in Oakland for lovers of the past. Its multiple levels are filled with rooms begging for visitors to explore, including my favorite, Hillman Hall of Minerals and Gems, where you can spy beautiful pieces from around the world.
If that wasn’t enough reason to visit, its most famous exhibit, Dinosaurs in Their Time, showcases massive fossil displays from the Mesozoic Era. It includes the famous Diplodocus carnegii, aka Dippy the Dinosaur, named for philanthropist and Pittsburgh tycoon Andrew Carnegie, along with 230 additional objects. Lastly, don’t forget to check out the third level’s exhibits on Egypt and The Artic. Though the temperatures may swing in opposite directions, the interactive displays make for lasting memories.
2. Carnegie Museum of Art
The Carnegie Museum of Art is located in the same building as CMNH in Oakland, and your paid admission gives you access to both. With a different vibe, you’ll find pristine antique furniture and highly ornate decor here. If old-school isn’t your vibe, no worries. There are plenty of galleries full of modern art pieces, films, and videos to entertain you.
3. The Warhol
Another Pittsburgh hero, artist Andy Warhol’s claim to fame was making the mundane extremely cool. Remember those iconic Campbell’s Soup cans? With seven levels of Warhol’s history, including a peek at his love of hoarding everything and turning it into his official archive, the rotating archive provides a different experience with each visit. Before you leave, grab a photo on Warhol’s famous couch for a “life imitating art” experience.
4. Trundle Manor
My favorite quirky, kooky museum, Trundle Manor, doesn’t need to promote itself – its visitors and fans do that for it. Created by the love of the macabre, owners Anton and Rachel Mirlello, aka Mr. Arm and Velda, love to show off their prized possessions on a personally-guided tour, including a singing tumor, their taxidermic pet cat, and more odd medical equipment than you could imagine. While there’s no specific admission fee, the couple asks for contributions in the form of museum additions, quirky pieces, and liquor.
5. Carnegie Science Center
Located on the North Shore, Carnegie Science Center is home to one of the largest miniature train displays that offers four seasons of Western Pennsylvania topography. And while you will find plenty of children visiting no matter what day you go, some events and parties are only for folks over 18, including monthly Friday night-themed fun and a 21+ night that gives you free rein of the exhibits. If you’re a fan of trippy shows, Rangos Giant Cinema plays laser night shows frequently, too.
6. Bicycle Heaven
You don’t have to own a bike to love two-wheeled vehicles, especially when you visit Bicycle Heaven on the North Shore. Created in 1996 in Bellevue, the massive shop made its way to Pittsburgh proper and is now considered the world’s largest bicycle shop and museum. If your bike needs a tune-up or tweak, no problem, but my reason for visiting is to see its collection of famous bicycles, including the red beauty from “Pee Wee’s Big Adventure.”
7. Center for PostNatural History
Another museum dedicated to the odd, the Center for PostNatural History, is all about organisms that have been “intentionally and heritably altered by humans,” including genetic engineering, domestication, and selective breeding. Popular species include goats with milk altered to produce Golden Orb Weaver Spider silk, photosensitive e. Coli, and ribless mice. The Center is only open for a few hours on Fridays and Sundays, but it’s truly worth a visit if you’re in the city on a weekend.
8. Phipps Conservatory
Technically, it’s not a museum. However, the Phipps Conservatory is so beautiful it had to make this list. Located in Oakland, its indoor and outdoor flower and plant displays are pristine no matter the time of year you visit. Having written that the winter holidays are when the pretty factor ramps up. Each year, it is Holiday Magic! Winter Flower Show and Light Garden offer a different theme, each more magical than the previous year’s version.
9. National Aviary
Technically not a museum, the National Aviary is considered a zoo with birds as its forte. While you will see more avian friends than you may have ever seen, its animal encounters, including sloths, owls, and penguins, make my shortlist for unique, fun Pittsburgh experiences. If you want to have a quieter visit when you go, aim for a midweek afternoon.
10. Roberto Clemente Museum
A tribute to the Puerto Rican who wore number 21 on his jersey for 18 seasons as a Pittsburgh Pirate right fielder, the Clemente Museum showcases his skill in the sport and his humanitarian side. The most extensive Clemente collection of baseball memorabilia will satisfy fans and lovers of the all-American game. Once the fire station Engine House 25 in Lawrenceville is converted and beautifully restored to honor the man and baseball legend.