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12.22.2019

Pittsburgh's Carnegie Institute Complex: World Class Art and Natural History Museums, Library, Music Hall, & More



“I spent the first half of my life making money and the second half of my life giving it away to do the most good and the least harm.”
-Andrew Carnegie
Carnegie has a checkered history when it comes to the growth of this nation. He was a Gilded Age titan whose industry shaped the outcome of the nation and the world, but the success of his businesses came from the low wage and dangerous exploitation of largely immigrant populations, namely my Eastern European ancestors. The sickness and accident rate was morbidly high, more than twice that of workers in other industries. He even forced his employees to work on holidays, including Christmas and New Years. He would pit immigrant groups against each other so that they would not demand better working conditions, and instead focus their anger upon other downtrodden immigrant groups. The mortality rate of his workers was through the roof. Uprisings and strikes were met with violent force by Carnegie's goons, resulting in death and serious injury for those who simply spoke up. The Pinkerton Guards, a group of these goons, opened fire on strikers in the Homestead Strike of 1892 and killed seven workers.

Carnegie spent the latter half of his life giving away his huge fortune of money back into the community, through the creation of community centers throughout the country. He built extravagant libraries, theaters, pools, museums, and more for the betterment of community life. The central palace of this philanthropy can be seen at the Carnegie Institute and Library in Pittsburgh's Oakland neighborhood. This enormous building was built in 1895 and houses the Carnegie Museums of Art and Natural History, Carnegie Music Hall, and Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh-Oakland Branch.
 
 A view from a snowy day on the steps of the Carnegie Library portion of the complex.
 In the halls of the majestic Library.
Some of the beautifully extravagant decor in the library area. The library serves as a community gathering spot, where people from all walks of life in the city of Pittsburgh gather to socialize and better themselves through academic study. 2,509 libraries were built with funds contributed by Carnegie throughout the world, between 1883 and 1929. At the time of his last grant in 1919, nearly half of the libraries in the United States had a connection to Carnegie. 
 Some fossils at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History
 Specimens exist of all sorts of ancient organisms at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History. This world class museum is one of the jewels of Pittsburgh.

 
Some of the precious rock collections at the museum
 Perhaps the most famous part of the collection at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History is the dinosaur collection. It is the world's largest collection of Jurassic Dinosaurs. 

 The Stegosaurus has always been my favorite Dino. 

The museum's Tyrannosaurus Rex is the first complete specimen ever collected. It was found in a Montana hillside in 1902. It was assembled in New York soon after, but out of concern for it possibly being bombed during World War II, it was sold to the Carnegie Museum of Natural History for protection and display. 
 
 Using scientific evidence, they have recreated the types of environments in which these dinosaurs lived, thus leading the display to be known as Dinosaurs in their Time

 Cultural remnants are also displayed, including Native American craft work...
 And Egyptian mummies
Taxidermed animals from far off lands are also included, giving people a glimpse into the many different species that inhabit planet earth, and a look into their habitats. 
The Carnegie Museum of Art has prohibitions upon the use of cameras within its beautiful halls, filled with spectacular art work. The museum was one of the first to feature lots of modern art. The Carnegie International is the oldest North American exhibition of global contemporary art. It was started upon the opening of the building at the request of Carnegie himself. The competition was created as a means to display modern art, and scope out some for permanent housing in the museum's collection. 

The most notable collection in the possession of the museum is the entire Charles "Teenie" Harris archive. This African-American photographer hailed from Pittsburgh and captured photo essays of daily life in segregated and Civil Rights era Pittsburgh. He also captured photos of famous individuals, such as Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Billy Eckstine, Lena Horne, Sarah Vaughan, Sam Cooke, Cab Calloway, Ray Charles, Charlie Parker, Muhammad Ali, Joe Louis, Eleanor Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Dwight Eisenhower, Richard Nixon, and Dizzy Gillespie.
Photo courtesy of the Carnegie Museum of Art
My personal favorite part of the Carnegie Museum of Art is the collection of Impressionist works, especially the Monet, Manet, and Pissaro works. Other impressionist work includes examples by Degas, Cassatt, C├ęzanne, Van Gogh, Gauguin, and Matisse,

Not pictured, but well worth checking out, is the Carnegie Music Hall. This is perhaps the most stunning room within the complex. It is extravagantly decorated and stunning to see. The acoustics are just about perfect. While they do not host a ton of shows anymore, it is a highly recommended treat to check out this place. It is more often used for seminars and lectures than for shows these days. Upcoming in 2020, there will be a seminar with Neil DeGrasse Tyson.

It is important that you get to the Carnegie Museums of Art and Natural History at least once if you are into those two fields, and/or into beautiful architecture. Located within a short walk of the complex is the University of Pittsburgh's Cathedral of Learning, and Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, Pittsburgh's Schenley Park, in addition to the rest of the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University Campuses. Oakland is the cultural heart of Pittsburgh and well worth exploring.

For more information on visiting the complex, check out the Museums website at https://carnegiemuseums.org and the Library website at  https://www.carnegielibrary.org/clp_location/main-oakland/

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