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Showcasing Pittsburgh's Design Heritage


The Hot Metal Modern exhibit, which opened last month, at the Carnegie Museum of Art, is the first in a series of exhibitions highlighting Pittsburgh’s role as a design center from the 1920’s through the 1960’s.

While the city has famously been known for industrial manufacturing, Catherine Walworth, curator of the exhibit, acknowledges, “It’s always been a terrific art city so they’re so interconnected that the result is pure invention.”

During this time of invention, companies like Westinghouse, Alcoa and PPG created cutting-edge materials, and dreamed up new uses for, existing materials. Walworth cited the example of Alcoa’s 1950’s Forecast Program where the company, “Reached out and put their facilities at the use of famous designers of the time.”

The design innovations taking place in Pittsburgh also impacted the rest of the country. PPG’s use of structural glass in the 1930’s transformed America. “Their structural glass became what we think of today as those glorious movie houses from the ‘30’s.”

The Hot Metal Modern exhibit was inspired by the research being done for the upcoming exhibit on pioneering industrial designer Peter Muller-Munk. Hot Metal Modern is a long term exhibition running through next year.

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