Pittsburgh museums students should see before they graduate


TPN File Photo

Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hall & Museum on Fifth Avenue in Oakland.

By Katelyn Kruszewski, For The Pitt News

Being a full-time student can be pricey between tuition, food and extracurriculars. There’s also the added stress of deciding what to do on your day off, and exploring Pittsburgh can hurt your bank account. Luckily for Pitt students, a night out doesn’t have to break your wallet.

Graduate or part-time students at the University of Pittsburgh can take advantage of free museum visits during the spring and fall semesters. Students with a valid Pitt ID are granted free access to some of Pittsburgh’s beloved museums. Through the University, faculty, staff and students can also purchase discounted tickets to some local venues.

Carnegie Museums of Art and Natural History

If you want to stay in the heart of Oakland, about a two-minute walk from the Cathedral of Learning is the Carnegie Museums of Art and Natural History. It’s open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day except Tuesday and from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Thursdays.

At the Carnegie Museum of History, students can explore the museum’s environmental center, replicas of dinosaur fossils and ancient civilizations.

The Carnegie Museum of Art showcases contemporary pieces, architecture and photography. Explore the space to see the Hall of Architecture, the grand staircase mezzanine or interact with the Hillman Photography Initiative.

Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens

While it’s not technically a museum, Phipps is so close to campus you can’t possibly skip it. It’s just a brief walk across Shenley Bridge in Schenley Park. The subject of many sunset photos, students may recognize the historic landmark by its glass exterior and beautiful flowers.

It’s open Monday through Sunday from 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. with the exception of Fridays from 9:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Walk through Phipps to see various species of exotic plants, gardens and learn more about sustainability and the exotic plants on display. The greenhouse also features intricate glasswork art.

Visit Phipps in December to see displays of light shows and stunning glowing gardens such as “Holiday Magic! Winter Flower Show and Light Garden.” From fountains to ice displays, Phipps is a must around the holidays.

Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens on Schenley Drive in Oakland. (TPN File Photo)

The Mattress Factory

A bit further from campus, but just a short bus ride on the 71A away, is the Mattress Factory. The Mattress Factory is a contemporary art museum that allows attendees to experience specific exhibits such as “Repetitive Vision” by Yayoi Kusama — an exhibit full of mirrors perfect for pictures. 

The Mattress Factory is open Thursday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. The museum is also open on Wednesdays from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. It’s closed Monday and Tuesday.

This museum is a sensory experience from the “Infinity Dots Mirrored Room” by Yayoi Kusama to the “Damn everything but the circus” by Benjamin Sota. Each exhibit offers a new way to become an artist and interact with the museum itself.

Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hall & Museum

Located in the heart of Pitt’s campus is Soldiers & Sailors. A historic landmark for Pittsburgh, the museum is dedicated to honoring military veterans and service personnel.

The museum is free to students during all semesters. Soldiers & Sailors is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The museum displays artifacts including war uniforms, medals, firearms, artwork and equipment.