Sunday, March 23, 2014

Andy Warhol & his museum

by Suzanne Coley
They "museum" differently.
The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh
In the North Shore neighborhood near downtown Pittsburgh is the largest museum in the United States dedicated to a single artist, The Andy Warhol Museum.  The museum is an impressive seven story building with thousands of paintings, prints, drawings, film, sculptures, and videos by Andy Warhol.
The Andy Warhol Museum, 2014
Don't look for somber guards in blue uniforms.  Here, staff look and dress like enthusiastic artists who are ready to talk about any art technique, art work, and video in the museum.

What I enjoyed most about my recent visit was Warhol's 1940s student art work and his 1950s commercial illustrations.  Currently on display, on the seventh floor gallery, are photographs, documents, and images of Warhol's life growing up in Pittsburgh.  You will see his original report card during his first semester at Carnegie Institute of Technology (now known as Carnegie Mellon University) as well as his first drawings and class projects.
Enjoying my visit at The Andy Warhol Museum, 2014
The Andy Warhol Museum is an interactive museum like no other.  The Silver Clouds room is amazing and really puts you in the spirit of the creative mind.  You walk into this glowing room filled with lots of large shiny silver helium balloons that move with air currents. Shaped like pillows, these playful balloons are everywhere, moving with you as you walk around.  Fun.  Fun.  Fun.  Spectacular!
Larger than life exhibits, The Andy Warhol Museum, 2014
Another unique feature of The Warhol is their basement Education Center.  It is really a little studio or Factory that encourages hands-on participation. Visitors create art works using some of Andy Warhol's famous techniques: the blotted line drawings and silkscreen printing. The friendly artists and educators give demonstrations of these techniques and then encourage you to try them.  I really enjoyed the blot drawings.  And, you can take your creations home!

The museum goes beyond presenting artwork and its history as a fixed body, instead they present art as an ever-changing process. The museum is no longer a building with exhibits and plaques on the walls: it has become an action verb.

The museum offers an opportunity to engage in discourse on art & aesthetics, critical thinking and art criticism.  Curators change the displays and exhibitions every few months, offering different ways of viewing Andy Warhol's art and analyzing it on a larger platform -- the purpose of art and the role of the artist in our society. 

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