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Pop in for your Warhol moment at Pittsburgh museum

Andy Warhol’s pop-art prints of Chairman Mao: Displays at Pittsburgh’s Andy Warhol Museum chronicle the life of the home-grown pioneer of pop culture.
Andy Warhol’s pop-art prints of Chairman Mao: Displays at Pittsburgh’s Andy Warhol Museum chronicle the life of the home-grown pioneer of pop culture. Andy Warhol Museum

I am sitting quietly on a stool against a black backdrop trying to channel my inner Edie Sedgwick as the camera rolls for 4 minutes and 41 seconds. I’m ready for my screen test, Andy Warhol.

But it’s hard to know what to do. Do I sit still or do I fidget? I should do something, right? But what? So I play with my hair and I blink and smile and then go back to a straight face. This could be very, very boring.

Later that day, a link to my screen test is emailed to me. I will not be the next Edie Sedgwick. Oh, well.

At the Andy Warhol Museum, adults and older children can both experience some of his art as well as learn about the pop culture icon, who was born Andrew Warhola in 1928 in Pittsburgh.

Start in the theater to watch a short film about Warhol that will help you better understand the artist. You'll get to hear from one of his brothers as well as famous and not-so-famous people that knew him.

Then head up to the top of the seven-floor building and work your way down to follow his life in chronological order. You can see his work as a child, as a high schooler and in college at what has become Carnegie Mellon University. You then learn about his work doing advertisements for shoes in New York in the late 1950s and how he created the blotted line look of his early years.

Soon you’re in the 1960s and you see his pop art style come to life in images of Campbell’s Soup cans, Elvis and Jackie Kennedy.

Then you see how his interest in making film takes off and how the Factory – his famous Manhattan studio – came to be. Enter a room and experience “Exploding Plastic Inevitable,” a film that is an auditory and visual explosion that might make your heart and head pound.

On another floor, experience “Silver Cloud,” a room filled with giant, inflated silver balloons that sink and rise around you. You can swat them or move them around in this playful experience.

One of the fascinating parts of the museum was seeing his boxes and boxes of time capsules. Warhol was a collector of his life and boxed up everything, even the most random things.

Once you finish your tour, the museum has a great gift shop and a cafe that’s made to look like the Factory.

To the heart of pop

The Andy Warhol Museum, 117 Sandusky St., is open 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesdays-Thursdays, Saturdays-Sundays; to 10 p.m. Fridays; closed Mondays. Admission: $20; $10 for ages 3-18. Details: www.warhol.org.

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