Heinz History's #Pixburgh Documents Decades Of Steel City Memories

Dec 20, 2016

Imagine pouring over images in a prized family photo album. But it's not just your family; it's every family to live in Pittsburgh for 12 decades.

#Pixburgh: A Photographic Experience celebrates a canon of 400 feature photographs culled from the Heinz History Center's vault of nearly one million. Some have never been seen publicly.

“This is the first time we’ve had an opportunity to mine and share the depth and breadth of our own collections at this level,” project manager Lauren Uhl said.

A photo of the iconic Kaufmann’s clock, still stationed at the corner of Fifth and Smithfield Downtown, beckons visitors inside. The full exhibit, open to the public through August 2017, also features shots from the 1960 World Series, the 1936 St. Patrick’s Day Flood and Kennywood through the years.

“People will really enjoy getting a sense of what people in past eras really valued,” senior curator Leslie Przbylek said.

Five galleries are devoted to specific aspects of Pittsburgh life.

They include Faces of Pittsburgh, highlighting the racial, ethnic and religious idiosyncrasies of the region; the ‘Burgh, showcasing famous landmarks such as the Point, Three Rivers Stadium and Parkway West; Hard Working Town documents the area's industry and workers; and another celebrates the leisure activities and pets of average Pittsburghers.

The exhibit also has interactive elements. An immersive photo slideshow area encourages visitors to play the role of museum curator and guess the date and location of historic images; a hands-on children’s section where kids can play a special photo matching game; and a special “Through the Lens” section where visitors can gaze through an oversized lens to see images from the photographer’s viewpoint.

“We’ll be swapping out some images and allowing local photographers and people who active on social media to come and share their images,” Przbylek said.

The exhibit also includes artifacts on loan from the Smithsonian, including a nine-lens, wet-plate camera from the 1880s that was used to take multiple images at the same time and a sheet of uncut gem tintypes from 1870. 

Patrons can also submit their own photos to the exhibit here.