Western Pennsylvania in general, and the city of Pittsburgh in particular, has a long history rich in the arts. Many residents in the area have opportunities to visit art galleries in the area, but most of them never pay too much attention to which ones are around. While Pittsburgh does have numerous art galleries, there are art galleries outside the city limits as well. I have a guide of some art galleries within a two hour drive of Pittsburgh that are worth taking the time to visit, as well as one in the city from Pittsburgh’s most famous artist.
Butler Institute of American Art – Youngstown, Ohio
Located just off the campus of my alma mater Youngstown State University just north of downtown, the Butler Institute of American Art opened in 1919 as the first museum in the United States dedicated exclusively to American art. Admission is free to the public, and is open Tuesday-Saturday 11 AM to 4 PM, Sunday 12 PM to 4 PM, and closed Monday. Being right off of YSU’s campus, there is ample parking in the area, although if you’re not a student or employee at YSU there is a parking fee to use their parking facilities. Among the more notable events to occur at the museum: in 2008, they had a display of original Looney Tunes artifacts directly from Warner Bros. Studios, partially as a homage to the Warners themselves, who were natives of Youngstown.
Erie Art Museum – Erie, Pennsylvania
Located in downtown Erie, the Erie Art Museum’s roots date back to the formation of the Art Club of Erie in 1898, eventually evolving to its current state in 1980. It is open from Tuesday-Saturday from 11 AM to 5 PM, Sunday 1 PM to 5 PM, and closed Monday. Admission is free to the general public on Wednesdays and the second Sunday of each month; the rest of the week, it’s $7 for adults, $5 for senior citizens and college students, and free for children under 5. Erie Art Museum Membership, whose fees vary, also provide free admission. Being in downtown, parking is more limited. The museum places emphasis on Pennsylvania folk art, but does show numerous art exhibits from many artists from around the globe, which for a city the size of Erie is pretty impressive. As a senior in high school, we had the option to attend the Erie Art Museum–along with the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and Museum–as part of a school-paid senior trip. All but two of us voted for the second option: Cedar Point. (Admittedly, at the time I also voted for a free trip to Cedar Point.) But, I’ve made up for it in the years since, having attended both the Erie Art Museum and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and Museum since that time.
Monongalia Arts Center – Morgantown, West Virginia
Located in downtown Morgantown, the Monongalia Arts Center opened in 1978 in the former post office building in Morgantown. While it does dedicate a section to performing arts as well, the Monongalia Arts Center features two art galleries, with some work provided by West Virginia University, located just a few blocks from the Monongalia Arts Center. It is open Monday-Friday 11 AM to 7 PM, Saturday 11 AM to 4 PM, and Sunday by appointment. A non-profit facility, the Monongalia Arts Center has free admission and relies primarily on donations. There are numerous parking garages in downtown Morgantown, so parking usually isn’t a problem, especially since the major WVU sporting facilities aren’t in downtown. (Parking near Mountaineer Field and the WVU Coliseum is a different story on game days.) Many of the artists featured for exhibits are West Virginia natives.
The Andy Warhol Museum – Pittsburgh
We can’t talk about Pittsburgh and art without mentioning Andy Warhol. Though he eventually moved to New York City before his career took off, he was a Pittsburgh native, and remains well-renowned in the area today. The Andy Warhol Museum, the largest art museum in the United States dedicated to a single artist, opened in 1994 on Pittsburgh’s North Shore. Being within walking distance of PNC Park and Heinz Field, parking is more than plentiful, but can be a pain on game days or any other events occurring at those stadiums. It is closed on Mondays (a common theme with art galleries), while open on Fridays from 10 AM to 10 PM and the remainder of the week from 10 AM to 5 PM. Admission is $20 for adults, $10 for children under 18 and college students, and half off on Fridays after 5 PM. Members of the Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh get free admission, as with all other art galleries within the Carnegie Museums.
There are many more art galleries within the city and surrounding areas to take a visit, but I wanted to list ones that were within easy access of the public from different parts of the region. Visiting art galleries can be fun sometimes, and with the various exhibits going in and out of the museums, you never know what to expect when you go to one.