Pittsburgh History Center expanding

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PITTSBURGH – The Senator John Heinz Pittsburgh Regional History Center, an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, will begin a $26.4 million expansion featuring a Smithsonian Traveling Exhibit Gallery, a Western Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame, and an Education Center and Theater.

Construction on the expansion, expected to commence in 2002 and be completed in 2004, will extend the History Center further down Smallman Street toward the Convention Center, and place the building among the top 10 largest history facilities in the country.

Project highlights. The new expansion will include:

* Smithsonian Traveling Exhibit Gallery. Last year, the history center became an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, one of only a handful of history museums in the country to achieve this distinction.

The Smithsonian Traveling Exhibit Gallery, on the addition’s first floor, will provide the center with the appropriate space to house exhibits, such as the newly confirmed American Presidents exhibit, which will appear at the History Center in 2004.

Also in development for the new gallery is a major traveling exhibit to premier here and commemorate the 250th anniversary of the French and Indian War in 2004.

* Study Collections/Visible Storage. Visitors to the second floor of the expansion will discover artifacts reflecting the breadth, depth and intrigue of the Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania’s collections.

* Western Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame. The third and fourth floors of the expansion will house the Western Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame, including exhibits from the Pittsburgh Pirates, Homestead Grays, Pittsburgh Steelers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Arnold Palmer’s legendary golf career, as well as basketball, hockey and other sports at the professional, collegiate and high school levels.

* Education Center and Theater. The fifth-floor Education Center will allow the history center to expand its successful educational programs with area schools in response to increasing public demand.

About the center. The history center museum and research facility currently houses a renowned library and archive of regional history books, manuscripts, family histories, films, recordings, maps, music and newspapers; 40,000 square feet of exhibition galleries; a 7,000 square-foot Children’s Discovery Hall; an 80-seat cafe; a reading room; and classrooms.

Currently at the center. The history center currently is showing five exhibitions, including the permanent “Points in Time: Building a Life in Western Pennsylvania, 1750-Today,” and its newest exhibit, a dual offering of “Isaly’s Dairy: Klondikes, Chipped Ham and Skyscraper Cones” and “Kidsburgh,” an interactive exhibit for families.

A new exhibit, “The Gift of Sympathy: The Art of Maxo Vanka,” provided a rare look at the Croatian-born artist who painted the murals adorning the sanctuary of St. Nicholas Roman Catholic Church in Millvale.

A private, nonprofit membership organization, the Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania is the region’s oldest historical institution and the largest society in Pennsylvania.

One of only 20 history museum affiliates of the Smithsonian Institution nationwide, the History Center is located at 1212 Smallman Street in Pittsburgh’s Strip District.
For more information, visit www.pghhistory.org, or call 412-454-6000.

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