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Carnegie Science Center Receives $7.5M, Largest Gift In Its History, For New Pavilion

Mark Goebel
The Carnegie Science Center, located on Pittsburgh's North Shore, received $7.5 million from PPG and the PPG Foundation, Wednesday.

The Carnegie Science Center has received a $7.5 million gift from PPG and the PPG Foundation – the largest in the science center’s history. The donation will go towards the construction of the PPG Science Pavilion, which is scheduled for completion in June 2018.

Ron Baillie, co-director of the science center, said the addition of the science pavilion will help the center educate the next generation of young scientists. The new pavilion will offer classroom spaces and two 14,000-square-foot exhibition areas for touring art and scientific exhibits. The first of these will be “The Art of the Brick” in December 2018, which will display a number of sculptures created entirely from Legos.

Baillie said he hopes the new center will benefit local children, particularly those interested in STEM fields, or science, technology, engineering and math. 

Credit Bill Gardner / 90.5 WESA
90.5 WESA
Carnegie Science Center co-director Ann Metzger shows off artistic renderings of what the new science pavilion will look like. It's expected to be completed by June of 2018.

“Certainly it’s going to serve young people with expanded STEM programming; courses and workshops on coding; river chemistry; cyber security – these are all a part of our curriculum now,” Bailey said. “These new classroom spaces will help us be able to offer those.”

Baillie said he also hopes the new space will help bring more national scientific exhibits to Pittsburgh. He said larger venues haven’t come to Pittsburgh in the past because there hasn’t been a space to host them. Science center officials said they hope that the new pavilion will provide an area for these larger events.

“The new space is being built to Smithsonian standards, in terms of environmental control and as well as size,” Ballie said. “So it becomes the only venue in the region that can really serve these kinds of exhibitions that we want to bring in.”

The new pavilion will not actually be affiliated with the Smithsonian, but Ballie said, the science center will follow similarly high standards. Pittsburgh does have a Smithsonian connection, however. The Heinz History Center, located in the Strip District, is an affiliate of the institute. 

Bryan Iams, vice president of corporate and government affairs for PPG, said the company decided to donate to the science center because of a similarity in aspirations.

“Really, their mission, which is to educate the youth in this region in the STEM fields, is perfectly aligned with PPG’s mission,” Iams said. “Help attract and retain future engineers and drive new technologies into the future.”

PPG has partnered with the science center for 36 years, since 1981 when it was the Buhl Science Center. The Carnegie Science Center has spent $34.5 million on renovations and new projects since 2014 as part of its Spark campaign.  

(Photo via Mark Goebel/Flickr)