Mattress Factory: Pittsburgh
I first encountered the Mattress Factory through the NYTimes series 36 Hours: Pittsburgh. I didn’t realize it at the time, but the image of the white mannequins with red polka dots would forever remain engrained in my head until I saw it in person. Also, little did I know that my best friend, Felice, who I met in Paris 12 years ago, would be their Education Director, and that I’d get an insider tour. These dotted rooms may look big, it’s all mirrors: hence the title Repetitive Vision. Such an experience, and part of the Mattress Factory’s permanent collection. Focused on installation art, the Mattress Factory reminded me quite a bit of Dynamo, the contemporary art exhibition which is still on in Paris at the Grand Palais.
The awesome thing about museums is that they can do crazy things that a client would never agree to: like Sarah Oppenheimer putting a hole and cut through the floor and out the window.
Artist Betsy Damon even put a river in the basement of the building (right). They were closing that part early to dry out the room before the next installation! The James Turrell room (left) was also trippy in it’s own way, and a good reminder that you should go and explore art – it’s not always what you expect when you get close!
This room of words I don’t understand by Parastou Forouha was one of my favorites.
There is also a delightful cafe on the main level where I ate a delicious black bean burger. Oh, and if you haven’t figured it out yet, the Mattress Factory literally used to be a mattress factory – you can see some of the mattress springs on the right wall.
Every year the Mattress Factory holds an Urban Garden Party fundraiser. Factory 500 is for high level donors and involves great events to private collections (I got to tag along to one – great fun!). They also offer a great summer camp for kids!
These photos are from my trip last May, and the temporary exhibit has changed since then, but it’s a good reminder that art museums are dynamic places and you should keep going back and see how they use the space each time. The Mattress Factory focuses on site specific art, so you can definitely expect a creative use of the space.
500 Sampsonia Way | Pittsburgh, PA 15212-4444
Open: Tuesday-Saturday: 10AM – 5PM, Sunday: 1PM – 5PM
For more on Pittsburgh, don’t miss Conflict Kitchen too!