For more comprehensive information about attractions and cultural events in the Pittsburgh area, see Visit Pittsburgh: http://www.visitpittsburgh.com.
Downtown and Cultural District
Pittsburgh’s downtown is compact and easily walkable; its citizens are friendly and its restaurants boast variety and excellence; its vistas are stunning and its urban structures are visually rich. It is also one of the safest cities in America. The downtown area includes an energetic Cultural District, just blocks from the Omni William Penn, dense with performance venues for theater, symphony, opera, and ballet. The Omni is located immediately across the street from two major modernist landmarks: the Alcoa Building (the first skyscraper clad in aluminum) and Mellon Square, the first urban park located on top of a parking garage. Nearby is the elegant neoGothic Union Trust Building, once the headquarters for Henry Clay Frick. The District’s most recent addition, the August Wilson Center, hosts performances and exhibits celebrating the city’s African-American communities. Many small art galleries and music clubs dot the streets of downtown and nearby neighborhoods.
Museums and Galleries
Carnegie Museum of Art
Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Museum of Art is one of the premier art institutions in the United States. The Carnegie started in 1896 as the Carnegie International, America’s first exhibit of contemporary art. The Carnegie houses a world-class collection with major holdings in European and American modernist and contemporary art, including works by the Italian Futurists, French Post-Impressionists, and American Abstract Expressionists. Starting November 1, 2014, the Carnegie will host an exhibition on the innovative, 1960s-era photography of Duane Michaels, a native of the Pittsburgh region.
For more information, visit http://www.cmoa.org
The Carnegie Museum of Art is located on Forbes Avenue in the Oakland neighborhood museum, within walking distance of University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie-Mellon University.
The Carnegie is 2.5 miles from the Omni William Penn Hotel. It is reachable via public transportation by walking to 5th Avenue at Smithfield Street and taking the 61 C towards McKeesport-Homestead via Oakland Sq. Hill Murray Ave. Disembark at Forbes Avenue opposite Craig Street, in front of the museum. The approximate travel time is 19 minutes.
The largest museum in the country devoted to a single artist, the Andy Warhol Museum opened in 1994. The collection of the Pittsburgh native’s art includes student work, early commercial illustrations, the famous Pop paintings of the 1960s, and his later, collaborative work with younger artists such as Jean-Michel Basquiat and Francesco Clemente.
For more information, visit http://www.warhol.org.
The Warhol is located 1 mile from Omni William Penn Hotel, on the North Shore at Sandusky and General Robinson Streets, across the Andy Warhol Bridge (formerly 7th Street Bridge) from downtown Pittsburgh.
The Warhol is a short cab ride from the Omni William Penn Hotel. It is also reachable via public transportation by walking to Liberty Avenue at 7th Street and taking the 6 bus towards Springhill-Northview Heights. Disembark at Sandusky and Isabella Streets. Walk for about a minute; the Warhol is at the intersection of Sandusky and General Robinson Streets.
The Mattress Factory
Founded in 1977, the Mattress Factory is an avant-garde installation art gallery that features exhibitions created on site by artists from around the world.
For more information, visit http://www.mattress.org.
The Mattress Factory is located 1.5 miles from the Omni William Penn Hotel on the North Shore at 505 Jacksonia Way.
The gallery is a short cab ride from the Omni William Penn Hotel. It is also reachable via public transportation by walking to Liberty Avenue at Tito Way and taking the 15 bus towards Charles-Northview Heights. Disembark at Brighton Road and Jacksonia. Walk on Jacksonia about 4 minutes. The gallery will be on the right.
Wood Street Galleries
A contemporary art space that features the work of new media and multi-disciplinary artists, Wood Street Galleries is located above the T-Station at Wood Street and Grant Avenue.
For more information, visit http://woodstreetgalleries.org.
Wood Street Galleries is located 2 blocks from the Omni William Penn Hotel. To reach it on foot, head northeast on William Penn Place and turn left on 6th Avenue. Turn right on Wood Street; Wood Street Galleries will be on the left.
Heinz History Center
The Heinz is a good resource for studies in labor and industrial history, including patterns of European migration and African-American migration to the region. Its Detre Library and Archives have open hours for researchers with a valid school ID. Heinz
For more information, visit http://www.heinzhistorycenter.org.
History Center is located at 1212 Smallman Street in Pittsburgh’s Strip District, about a ten minute walk from the Omni William Penn Hotel. To reach it on foot, head northeast on Grant Street toward Sixth Avenue. Turn left onto 11th Street and then right onto Smallman Street. The History Center will be on the right.
The Frick Art & Historical Center
Located in Pittsburgh’s east-end Point Breeze neighborhood, the Frick offers tours of this gilded-age home, as well as a fascinating antique car museum. It is about a fifteen minute drive from the Omni William Penn Hotel.
For more information, visit http://www.thefrickpittsburgh.org.
Industrial history buffs may want to tour the defunct Carrie Furnaces steel mill. Built in 1907, the Carrie Furnaces are the only the only remaining non-operative blast furnaces in the Pittsburgh area. It is about a twenty minute drive from the Omni William Penn Hotel. For more information, visit http://www.riversofsteel.com.
Fallingwater and Kentuck Knob, both designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, are about an hour and fifteen minute drive of Pittsburgh.
To tour either of the properties, advance ticket purchase and/or reservations are required. For more information, visit http://www.fallingwater.org and http://kentuckknob.com.
Wandering other parts of the city reveals modernist gems, such as the Stephen Foster Memorial built in the 1930s, and the 1920s masterpiece Cathedral of Learning, both located on the University of Pittsburgh’s campus in Oakland. Just outside of the conference’s downtown location, Pittsburgh’s many distinct neighborhoods still reflect their modernist heritage. The Mexican War Streets of the Northside holds historic designation for homes built for the wealthy during the years of that war; the Southside’s row houses are excellent examples of middle and working class homes built in the late Victorian/early modernist period. Polish Hill, home to immigrants coming to work in the mills, has the feel of a small European town, its main square dominated by a massive domed church, one of many around the city. The Hill District, Pittsburgh’s historic African American neighborhood, functioned to advance Afro-centric modernisms in jazz, publishing (including the major African-American newspaper, the Courier), sports (boasting the Pittsburgh Crawfords, a major team in the Negro League), literature (serving as the childhood home for August Wilson and site of his play cycle), and art (also home to Romare Beardon, whose huge mural, “Pittsburgh Recollections,” is easily viewable in the Gateway T-stop station).
For outdoor enthusiasts, plentiful opportunities abound for hiking, biking, and boating in the city, through riverside trails to walk or bike, and easy access to bike & kayak rentals. Point State Park is 7 blocks away from the Omni Hotel, while running trails along the Monongahela and Allegheny Rivers are about a half a mile away. River tours on ferry boats run up and down the Monogahela, Ohio, and Allegheny rivers regularly, offering spectacular views of the city.
For those interested in sports, Pittsburgh’s football, baseball, and hockey teams all play in downtown venues downtown. Who knows – the Steelers or Penguins might be in town), or the Pirates might just have taken the World Series.
For Jazz enthusiasts, the Crawford Grill is a must-see live music venue:
For families traveling with kids, the Carnegie Science Museum has a terrific interactive sports center. The Children’s Museum and the National Aviary are both near downtown, on the north side. For those with cars, the Pittsburgh Zoo is a short drive up the river.