From Phipps to the Carnegie Museum of Art: all the culture new to Pitt in 2020


Thomas Yang | Assistant Visual Editor

The Phipps Conservatory will have its “Orchid and Tropical Bonsai show: Out of the World” from Jan. 18 to March 8.

By Delilah Bourque, Culture Editor

As the spring semester begins and classes resume, finding something to do is a challenge for many in the dreary, often cold and wet weather in the Pittsburgh wintertime. Instead of holing up with flashcards, Netflix or the latest bestselling book, check out what’s going on right in your own backyard.

Special exhibitions — Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens

Phipps Conservatory is a quick walk from the main part of Pitt’s campus, located just past the Frick Fine Arts building at 1 Schenley Drive. Though the gardens have year-round exhibitions, such as various rooms devoted to different climates and a multi-room spread on the culture and flora of Cuba, Phipps also offers a rotating variety of special flower shows, which change every few months.

Past exhibitions include Vincent Van Gogh paintings brought to life in flowers, and the conservatory hosts a variety of events and special nights with corresponding themes to the current exhibition. From film screenings to 21+ nights, the events calendar at Phipps has a wide variety of programming.

Orchid and Tropical Bonsai show: Out of this World 

Jan. 18-March 8

Phipps’ Orchid and Tropical Bonsai show is almost literally out of this world, featuring star-shaped orchids and a specially curated collection of tropical Bonsai trees. Some of the plants in this exhibition have been grown under special conditions for years, and visitors will be able to get up close and personal with mosses and ferns laid out on interactive tables.

Spring Flower Show: Canopy of Color

March 21-April 19

Phipps offers a grand display of colorful flowers and other plants year-round, and this year that color is above visitors’ heads with baskets and designs suspended in midair. The spring flower show not only offers colorful blooms, but displays of scented flowers and displays designed to create music as well, such as wind chimes made of bamboo rods.

Phipps Conservatory is open 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. daily, and remains open until 10 p.m. on Fridays. Tickets are free for Pitt students with a valid student I.D. 

Special Exhibitions — Carnegie Museum of Art

The Carnegie Museum of Art is practically an on-campus institution at Pitt. The entrance to CMOA is located at 4400 Forbes Ave., and offers a selection of permanent installations that cover everything from Renaissance art to modern art, as well as frequent new exhibitions. The museum also features a cafe and coffee bar, as well as two-for-the-price-of-one admission, which is free for Pitt students, for both CMOA and the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, located in the same building.

In Sharp Focus: Charles “Teenie” Harris 

Jan. 25 

Scaife Gallery

In Sharp Focus is a new, ongoing exhibition at the museum that features the work of photographer Charles “Teenie” Harris. Harris, the photographer from The Pittsburgh Courier, one of the most influential black newspapers in the country, captured the life and history of the Pittsburgh African American community. CMOA will also host a number of educational events and programs inspired by the new exhibition.


Feb. 21-July 12

Forum Gallery

The latest installment of CMOA’s Forum series is Counterpressures, a group exhibition about the urgency of climate change by 10 local Pittsburgh artists, who mix data and documentation with their own lived experiences of an uncertain ecological future. The exhibition takes its name from the work of Pittsburgh environmentalist Rachel Carson’s 1962 work “Silent Spring.” Counterpressures is the 83rd Forum series exhibition, which began in 1990.

The Carnegie Museum of Art is open 10 a.m.-5 p.m. every day except Tuesdays. Special exhibitions are included with the price of admission, which is free for Pitt students with a valid student ID.

Pitt Stages Productions — Various locations 

Pitt Stages encompasses the productions put on by Pitt’s theater program, which offers BA, MFA and PhD degrees in theater arts through the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences. The shows are open to the public, with season ticket offerings as well as tickets for individual shows. Following four productions in the fall 2019 semester, this semester Pitt Stages is offering another three plays, as well as one spring musical.

LAB 3: “Oblivion” 

Feb. 5-Feb. 9 

Henry Heymann Theater 

Pitt Stages’ lab productions are student-directed programs that cover a wide range of experimental, classic and new theater with three different productions every year. “Oblivion,” directed by theater arts graduate student Sean Cook and originally written by Carly Mensch, tells the story of secular humanist parents Pam and Dixon and their daughter Julie, who decides to become Christian.

The Verge” 

Feb. 6-Feb. 16 

The Charity Randall Theater

“The Verge,” directed by Andrea Gunoe and written by Susan Glaspell, was originally produced in the 1920s. The show examines the struggles of 20th-century life, which has recently been wrecked by war and changed by women’s suffrage, through the lense of Claire Archer, a female botanist attempting to create a new form of life. Tensions flare and the show turns away from the comedic as Claire’s family and friends worry that she is slowly descending into madness. 


Feb. 20-March 1 

The Richard E. Rauh Studio Theater

Originally premiering off-Broadway in 2014 and written by Brandon Jacobs-Jenkins, “Appropriate” tells the story of the Lafayette family, including three adult children who return to their Kansas home after the death of their father. Though they intend to sort through the patriarch’s mementos, junk and debt, a shocking discovery turns the reunion into explosive confrontation. Pitt Stages’ production is directed by Ricardo Vila-Roger.

Head Over Heels

April 2-April 12 

The Charity Randall Theater 

With music and lyrics by ’70s new wave band The Go-Go’s, “Head Over Heels” is a musical based on Phillip Sidney’s “The Countess of Pembroke’s Arcadia.” King Basilus of Arcadia takes his royal court on a journey through the woods to avoid the prophecies of the Oracle of Delphi, who threaten that the kingdom’s “beat,” — the divine source of the kingdom’s prosperity — will soon be lost. Directed by Tomé Cousin, “Head Over Heels” was originally written by Jeff Whitty and adapted by James Magruder. 

Tickets for Pitt Mainstages productions are $12 for students, $15 for seniors and $25 for adults.